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Bronze statuette of a ploughman with a team of oxen

Ploughing in Roman Britain


Length: 7.500 cm

Gift of Sir A.W. Franks

P&EE 1879 7-10 1

Room 49: Roman Britain

    Bronze statuette of a ploughman with a team of oxen

    Roman Britain
    Found at Piercebridge, County Durham

    Despite appearances, this statuette is probably not intended to be a simple representation of everyday life. The team yoked to the plough consists of a bull and a cow, a pairing that is impractical for various reasons: the difference of size and strength could make it difficult to keep the furrow straight, and the male could be difficult to manage in such close proximity to the female. The pairing of the bull and cow here may refer to the setting out of the boundaries of a new city. On these occasions a furrow was ploughed specifically by such a team because of the good luck associated with the fertility that the male/female pairing suggests.

    The ploughman wears a hooded cloak, a rainproof woollen garment typical of Britain and Gaul.

    T.W. Potter, Roman Britain, 2nd edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)


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