- Museum number
- Production date
Length: 95 millimetres
Width: 60 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Inscribed lead sheet ('curse tablet)
2nd-3rd century AD
The sheet was folded five times after being inscribed on one side. The six line text, in Old Roman Cursive script, reads 'Mintla Rufus to the god Mercury. I have given them, whether woman or [man],... the material of a cloak. I have given (them)'. Perhaps despairing of the return of his cloth the petitioner ‘gives’ the thieves to the god - twice - presumably in the hope that they will receive divine retribution.
The petitioner's name is unusual and 1 may or may not have had an intentional sexual connotation. The second part is unexceptional, but the first part is a colloquial Latin word for phallus. If it was not a neutral second name it may have been a composite name, 'Redprick'.
PRB. P.1978.1.2. (Inv. no. 2210)
The Uley lead curses
At Uley almost 100 small thin rolled-up sheets of lead were found bearing Latin texts addressed to the god Mercury. Such lead tablets (defixiones), also found in large numbers in the sacred spring at Bath, are often referred to as 'curses' because of the nature of their texts: petitions for divine intervention B against wrongdoers. Typically they are H complaints of theft, and the god is asked to exact revenge or secure the return of stolen property, often being 'given' the property of the thief himself.
Whether the curses were written by professional scribes or the petitioners themselves is not yet clear, but the frequent use of set formulas and quasi-legal phraseology may have been intended to invest them with particular authority. The curses make fascinating reading, for they shed light on the personal possessions of the ordinary people of Roman Britain, as well as reminding us of the timeless problems of petty theft and crime.
Hassall, M.W.C and Tomlin, R.S.O 1995 'Roman Britain in 1994: II Inscriptions' Britannia 26,
- On display (G49/dc20)
- Corroded at the edges but otherwise in quite good condition, complete.
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: SF 2210