Amber statuette

A magical long-distance traveller at Scotch Corner




Julie Shoemark

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be showcasing some of our favourite finds from the #A1Upgrade published in our brand new #CCCMonograph. 

This week’s find has made quite the journey to join us today. The incomplete but beautiful remains are part of an amber statuette in the form of a male torso wearing a mantle over a short-sleeved tunic. The amber would have been sourced in the Baltic before being traded to an amber workshop in Italy, probably Campania, and then making its way north, perhaps as a diplomatic gift, or possibly as a personal possession, to Scotch Corner. Amber, like jet, has electrostatic properties and was considered to be inherently magical, adding to its exotic appeal. 

Amber objects were rare in Late Iron Age and Roman Britain and this is the only example of such a statuette found in Britain to date. Although we have only a fragment of the torso, stylistic comparisons with intact examples, including one from Pompeii, give us a good idea of how he might have looked when complete and enable us to identify him as depicting an actor. This has been reconstructed by our wonderful illustrator Mark Hoyle. 

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