Enamelled bronze pan
Staffordshire Moorlands, England
Roman, 2nd Century AD
A Roman souvenir of Hadrian's Wall
This pan (trulla) is made of copper alloy, with Celtic-style ornament inlaid with turquoise, blue, red and yellow-coloured enamel. The handle and base are missing. Below the rim is an enamel-inlaid inscription which encircles the pan: MAIS (Bowness-on-Solway) COGGABATA (Drumburgh) VXELODVNVM (Stanwix) CAMMOGLANNA (Castlesteads) RIGORE VALI AELI DRACONIS. The four names are forts in the western sector of Hadrian's Wall.
The part of the inscription which reads RIGORE VALI AELI DRACONIS is very significant but more difficult to interpret. 'Rigore vali' seems to be a direct reference to Hadrian's Wall, for in Roman times it was known as 'the vallum'. 'Aeli' may also belong with that phrase, specifying 'the wall of Hadrian', for Aelius was Hadrian's family name. Alternatively, 'Aeli' could belong with the word 'Draco', forming the personal name Aelius Draco (or Dracon). He may have been a soldier who had the pan made as a souvenir of his military service on the Wall.
The pan belongs to a series of colourful enamelled bronze trullae dating to the second and third centuries AD. It is particularly linked to two of these - the 'Rudge Cup', found at Rudge Coppice, Wiltshire in 1725, and the 'Amiens Patera', found at Amiens in 1949 - which have similar inscriptions. The Staffordshire pan, however, is the most spectacular example so far and is the first to mention the fort at Drumburgh.
M. Pitts and S. Worrell, 'Dish fit for the gods', British Archaeology (2003), 22-27
R.S.O. Tomlin, 'Inscriptions', Britannia-4 (2004), 344-345