27th Jun, 2017

Alcester bird bath turns out to be Roman artifact

Redditch Editorial 7th Oct, 2016 Updated: 18th Oct, 2016

A 2,000-year-old Roman ‘mortarium’, which was being used as a bird bath has gone on display at Roman Alcester Heritage Museum.

Alcester resident, Ray Taylor, found a pottery bowl in his garden a few years ago and decided to use it as a bird bath.

When his daughter visited the Roman Alcester exhibition at the town’s Globe House she noticed similar items on display.

She suggested her dad take the bowl along to the museum to find out more about it.

During the Roman Festival at Globe House this May, Sara Wear, curator of Human History for Warwickshire Museum Service, identified the bowl as an almost complete Roman mortarium, dating to around the 2nd or 3rd century AD.

A mortarium is a grinding bowl, used like a modern pestle and mortar. It was used to grind herbs, spices and other ingredients to make the strong-tasting sauces the Romans loved on their food – mainly to disguise the fact that the meat was often far from fresh.

This example could have been made in Mancetter, near Atherstone, where there was an important mortaria production site.

Realising the significance of the item, Mr Taylor donated it to Warwickshire Museum and it can be seen at the museum Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9.30am to 5.30pm and Saturday 10am to 4pm.

Alcester county councillor Mike Gittus said: “This is a fantastic addition to the collection at the Roman Alcester Heritage Museum. The museum already holds some fascinating artefacts that show the richness of history that surrounds Alcester.”

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