Cosmetic grinder

Roman Britain, probably 1st century AD
From Hockwold, Norfolk

Body care in Late Iron Age and Roman Britain

This small bronze implement is one part of a two-piece set which functioned like a mortar and pestle. The missing part, a curved rod, was rocked in the groove of this part, probably to crush and grind coloured mineral grits into powdered pigments for eye-shadow and other facial colourings.

The sets, which have loops for carrying on a cord, were exclusive to Britain; only two of over 500 examples have been found elsewhere. They originated in the Late Iron Age, but most date to the Roman period. There is considerable variety in their size, and the degree of elaboration, and some have finely-modelled stylized animal head terminals. This one combines a bull's head with the head of a swan or duck.

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Cosmetic grinder

Cosmetic grinder, from Norfolk, Roman Britain, 1st century AD

  • Putting on make-up from a cosmetic grinder

    Putting on make-up from a cosmetic grinder


More information



Length: 103.000 mm

Museum number

P&EE 1977 4-3 1


Presented by D. Brown


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