History beneath our feet – November 2023

Words by:
Colin Smale
Featured in:
November 2023

Colin Smale examines fascinating historical treasures with a canine connection.

The Romans invaded England in AD43 and moved into Lincolnshire around AD50 when they built a fortress on the hilltop in Lincoln.

Archaeology shows there were very few places in our county that they didn’t have a settlement; some were large such as Caistor (Venta Icenorum) and others small.

A field near Wragby is one area where the Romans made a settlement and the floor tile shown here [PIC 1] tells an interesting little story. It may come as a surprise to some that Romans used cement, as seen in the structure of this tile, but cement has been used since 200 BCE!

The day they made this floor tile (along with many more) and placed them outside to dry in the sun before firing, a dog, maybe even the builder’s dog, ran across the tiles before they dried and so made its “doggy” mark in history!

It has been suggested that this may have been the mark of a fox but, for me, I think the paw print is slightly too wide?

Man’s best friend
Staying with man’s best friend is people’s second best friend, wine or beer, and the 15th-century copper alloy zoomorphic spout here [PIC 2] shows a dog’s head. Coincidentally it was found very near the Roman tile!

The open mouth would have been driven into a metal vessel and fixed/soldered in place, the pouring spout is obviously on the right hand side.
Length: 61 mm
Width: 14 mm

Finally, we have a Roman copper alloy, T-shaped (‘Sawfish’) sprung brooch with a zoomorphic crest decorated with a recumbent dog [PIC 3]. This was found near Keelby after the field was ploughed.
Length: 80 mm
Height: 20 mm
Width: 50 mm

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