Lead tank

Roman Britain, 4th century AD
From Icklingham, Suffolk

This lead tank is one of three found at Icklingham, where an early church and cemetery have been excavated. On the side of the tank in two places is the common Christian device of a Chi-Rho symbol, the first two letters of Christ's name in Greek. This is flanked by an alpha and omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, another symbol of Christ - 'I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last' (Revelation 1:8).

There is no conclusive evidence that the lead tanks were used as fonts, but they were presumably intended to hold water.

Although the chi-rho is correctly marked, the positions of the alpha and omega have been reversed. While this may have had religious significance, it is just as likely to have been the result of a mistake in the casting process by someone unaccustomed to the Greek alphabet.

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Lead tank

  • Detail of inscription around tank

    Detail of inscription around tank


More information



Diameter: 81.000 cm

Museum number

P&EE 1946 2-4 1


Gift of Major T.C. Lucas


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