A Roman lantern made of metal and bronze. Like a modern hurricane lantern.

A rare Roman lantern (Ipswich)

This lantern dates from between 43 and 300 AD and is made of bronze. It is like a modern hurricane lamp and the naked flame would have been protected by a thin sheet of horn which had been scraped and shaped until it was see through and could be wrapped around the metal part of the lantern to act as the shield. The horn is an organic material that did not survive as it will have rotted in to the soil. The flame would have been produced by placing a wick into olive oil in a holder at the base of the lamp not unlike a tea light holder.

What is particularly amazing about the lantern is that the chains that it was suspended from still look and move like any modern chain and had not corroded into a metal lump.

We know that Suffolk became a hot spot for Roman villa and country estates in the 2nd century and perhaps this lantern was used to move between a villa and its outhouses after dark.

This lantern was found in the autumn of 2009 by Mr Danny Mills who was using a metal detector on land near Sudbury belonging to Mr and Mrs Miller. This discovery highlights the fact that not only are amazing objects from the past still waiting to be discovered under our feet but that everyone has a role in saving our past, not just museums and archaeologists.


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