It is sometimes the smallest of objects that carry the most history, and a little piece of North Yorkshire’s ancient past came up for auction on 31st March.
A Roman cast bronze ear, from a life-size head or statue, was found by the vendor in Brompton-on-Swale near Richmond. Dating from c.200AD-400AD, the ear is one of only a handful of fragments of such high status bronze sculpture that have ever been found in Britain. Anatomically correct, with a suggestion of intricately cast hair, the ear has weathered to a mottled green and is a pleasing object in its own right.
However, the ear also hints at the rich history of the area. Brompton-on-Swale is situated on Dere Street, an important Roman Road that linked York with the North, next to the Roman fort and settlement of Cataractonium (now Catterick). Such a high status object hints at the complex society that grew up around military outposts, even in the wilds of Northern Britain.
The Roman ear was fully documented by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and generated much interest from local and national papers ahead of the sale. This remarkable piece was featured in The Daily Mail Online, The Northern Echo, Antiques Trade Gazette and Richmondshire Today.
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