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 Museum Explorer

Birds and beasts in Roman Britain

Ploughman and oxen

Length: 7.500 cm

P&EE 1879 7-10 1

Ploughman and oxen

From: Piercebridge, County Durham
Date: Roman Britain

Although it is not obvious, there is something unusual about this small statue. In real life these cattle would have been difficult to drive, because they are a bull and a cow. Bulls are bigger and stronger than cows and harder to control. A ploughman would usually have harnessed two animals of similar size and strength such as two bulls, or two cows.

What this model might show is a special Roman custom of marking the boundary of a new city by ploughing a single furrow with a male and female team.