28th Jun, 2017

'Bird bath' turns out to be Roman pestle and mortar

Stratford Editorial 16th Oct, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A ROMAN artifact used as a bird bath now has pride of place in an Alcester museum.

Town resident Ray Taylor found the 2,000-year-old pottery bowl in his garden a few years ago and not knowing what it was, decided it would make an ideal bird bath.

But after his daughter visited the the Roman Alcester Heritage Museum at Globe House and noticed similar items on display, she suggested her dad should take the bowl along to the Globe House museum to find out more.

Sara Wear, a curator for the Warwickshire Museum Service, identified it as a Roman mortarium dating to around the 2nd or 3rd century AD. A mortarium would have been used like a modern pestle and mortar to grind herbs, spices and other ingredients to make sauces.

Experts say it was unusual to get a pottery piece so complete, as most such pottery unearthed at archaeological sites had been thrown away after it had been broken during usage back in Roman times.

The museum believe this particular mortarium could have been made in Mancetter, near Atherstone, where there was a mortaria production site in Roman times.

When Ray realised the significance of his makeshift bird bath he donated it to the Warwickshire Museum collections.

Warwickshire Ccounty councillor for Alcester Mike Gittus said: “This is a fantastic addition to the collection at the Roman Alcester Heritage Museum in our vibrant town.

“The museum already holds some fascinating artifacts recovered in the local area that shows the richness of history that surrounds Alcester.”

Visit www.ourwarwickshire.org.uk for more information about the collections.