This small, metal figure appears to date from around the 1st century AD, and although initially identified as the rarely depicted god Cernunnos, he is now considered to be an unknown deity. While the features of the figure are stylistically Celtic, it is most likely to be a Roman artefact. His oval eyes, hairstyle and moustache are clearly discernible, and he is shown holding an open-ended metal neck ring, known as a torc, with a small central indentation that may have once held a decorative inlay. The figure probably originally served as the handle of a spatula, perhaps used to mix medicines, or wax to make writing tablets. It has been cast in a copper alloy and was found on the Wimpole estate in Cambridgeshire in 2018. It may have been lost or deposited here by inhabitants of early Roman Britain at the end of the Iron Age. It is a reminder of the ways in which the Celtic religion shared features with the Roman religion during the Roman occupation of Britain from AD43 to 410, when both worshipped multiple deities responsible for different aspects of daily life.
An early Roman handle adornment, 1 AD – AD100, copper alloy, depicting an unknown Celtic deity, holding a torc. From a spatula for mixing and applying medical salves, or for cutting blocks of wax to spread on writing tablets. Cast in a mould and then finished by hand. Its base is a split socket that retains traces of iron corrosion from the spatula blade. Discovered in an early Roman context during an excavation on the Wimpole Estate in 2018.