Bacchus Amulet

A stranger in a strange land.




Julie Shoemark

This beautiful glass medallion in the form of a human mask was originally part of a jug and would have been positioned at the base of the handle. It was made by applying a blob of hot glass to the jug, which was then impressed with a stamp to make the design. The remains of leaves from a wreath around the face identify it as Bacchus, the god of wine. 

At some point in the vessel’s life it was broken, but the medallion was salvaged and reworked into an amulet. Hilary Cool of Barbican Research Associates examined the glass from Scotch Corner and points out that Bacchus was considered a saviour god as well as his role as god of wine. Similar medallions have been found at other sites in Late Iron Age Britain associated with the Roman military in the first decades of occupation. The wear marks visible on the face indicate that it was probably carried in a pouch with other personal possessions for a long time. It is probable that this amulet came to Scotch Corner as the treasured possession of a soldier sent into a new, and potentially hostile territory. 

To find out more about the Roman military presence at Scotch Corner and the glass assemblage, see our new monograph Contact, Concord and Conquest: Britons and Romans at Scotch Corner. 

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