Gilded copper statuette of Hercules

Roman Britain, 2nd century AD
Said to be from Hadrian's Wall, near Birdoswald, Cumbria

This large gilded statuette of Hercules, wearing a lion-skin, is unusual. Because there are no details of its date and place of discovery, it has been the subject of controversy in the past, including suggestions that it is not Roman at all, but Etruscan, Renaissance or even modern.

Technologically the method of casting and gilding is known from the Roman period. It may have come from a military shrine, and the current interpretation is that the statuette is intended as a portrait of the Emperor Commodus (reigned AD 180-92), who in AD 191 began to identify himself with the hero Hercules.

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More information


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


Height: 50.000 cm

Museum number

P&EE 1895 4-8 1


Gift of Sir A.W. Franks


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