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 Museum Explorer

Tools and technology
in Roman Britain

Weighing scales

Length: 186.000 mm (beam)

P&EE 1935 10-28 1

Weighing scales

From: Walbrook, London
Date: 1st or 2nd century AD

You may think this looks like a fishing rod, but actually it is a kind of weighing scale called a steelyard. Throughout the Roman world, shopkeepers and traders used these to weigh food and other goods, and they are still used in some countries today. They are easy to use and light enough to be carried around.

You hold the iron steelyard by the hook at the top and hang an object from the double hook on the left. You then move the lead weight on the right along the arm until the steelyard is balanced. You can then read the weight of the object from the marks on the arm.