Height: 45.000 cm
Length: 65.000 cm
Room 49: Roman Britain
Sculpture of a lion overpowering a ram
Roman Britain, 2nd-3rd century AD
From Kirkby Thore, Cumbria
The lion as a symbol of death
This sculpture was probably from a cemetery or mausoleum outside the Roman fort at Kirkby Thore. The lion was commonly used in Roman funerary sculpture to symbolize the all-devouring power of death.
African lions were brought to Rome and other provinces, principally for use in wild-animal hunts, and gladiatorial combat in amphitheatres. However, it is unlikely that many reached Britan, which was at the edge of the Empire; the sculptor of this statue may never have seen a live lion.