Only intact Roman lamp ever found in UK

Roman lantern on the day of the findNeedless to say, it was found by an amateur metal detectorist. Danny Mills found the virtually intact bronze lamp at a metal detecting rally in Glemsford, near Sudbury, Suffolk, last fall. He reported it to local archaeologists and the landowner later donated it to the Ipswich Museum. Now the lamp has been restored and is on display at the museum.

It’s the only Roman lamp of its kind ever found in the UK. The British Museum has some fragments of similar lamps, but the only other place a lamp so complete has been uncovered is in Pompeii.

Conservator at Colchester and Ipswich Museums, Emma Hogarth, who restored the object said it is a rare and exquisite example of craftsmanship.[…]

Roman lantern restoredThe lantern resembles a modern hurricane lamp and the naked flame would have been protected by a thin sheet of horn — now decomposed — that had been scraped until it was translucent.

“What is particularly amazing about the lantern is that the chains it was suspended from still look and move like any modern chain and had not corroded into a metal lump,” said Hogarth.

The lamp dates to between the 1st and 3rd centuries A.D. Suffolk had a number of wealthy villas in the 2nd century. The quality of the lantern suggests that it may have come from one of them.

And now in an even rarer treat, here’s some video taken of the find on the day of the rally:

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Comment by LadyShea
2010-09-02 12:06:05

Is there anything special about the location it was in, that explains why it is so beautifully preserved?

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Comment by livius drusus
2010-09-02 12:48:42

Nothing that I can detect. It’s not a peaty or boggy or particularly dry area. I think it’s just the breaks.

Comment by LadyShea
2010-09-02 12:06:40

OMG please fix my comment so that it is spelled correctly :blush:

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Comment by livius drusus
2010-09-02 12:47:03

Done, ma’am. :hattip:

Comment by Hazel Mathoora
2010-09-07 05:33:12

Love your blog :boogie:

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Comment by livius drusus
2010-09-07 23:33:19

Thank you kindly. :thanks:

Comment by David Knell
2013-07-23 18:05:53

Strictly, it is a lantern rather than a lamp. Here is a similar one found in France.

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Comment by David Knell
2013-07-23 18:15:46

I included a link in my comment but your software seems to have deleted it. At any rate, the French lantern is in the Musée Sainte-Croix, Poitiers.

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Comment by livius drusus
2013-07-23 18:57:34

When you put a link in the URL field, it assumes you mean a home page and makes your username clickable to that site. If you click “David Knell” on your first comment, it will take you the lantern (thank you for the correction, btw) in the Poitiers museum. They are indeed very similar.

Comment by Alan
2021-06-10 04:18:23

There was nothing special about the location. The field had been heavily detected over a couple of years. After this find, the immediate area was scanned, but nothing of note was found. It was just a random loss, like so many other detector finds. In an area unlikely ever to have been of any archaeological interest.

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