Roman object that has baffled experts goes on show

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The 12-sided object, which has baffled experts as to its use, is the first to be discovered in the Midlands
By David McKenna
BBC News

A mysterious Roman artefact found during an amateur archaeological dig is going on public display in Lincolnshire for the first time.

The object is one of only 33 dodecahedrons ever found in Britain, and the first to have been discovered in the Midlands.

It was found in Norton Disney, near Lincoln, in the summer of 2023.

The artefact is also one of the largest ever found, measuring about 3in (8cm) tall and weighing half a pound (245g).

The 12-sided object was unearthed by a group of local volunteers.

The group of volunteers plans to return to the area where the dodecahedron was found in the hope of unearthing more clues

Richard Parker, secretary of the Norton Disney History and Archaeology Group, said it was a “privilege to have handled” the object, thought to have been buried about 1,700 years ago.

However, he said: “Despite all the research that has gone into our dodecahedron, and others like it, we are no closer to finding out exactly what it is and what it might have been used for.

“The imagination races when thinking about what the Romans may have used it for. Magic, rituals or religion – we perhaps may never know.

“What we do know is the Norton Disney dodecahedron was found on the top of a hill in a former large pit of some kind. It seems it was deliberately placed there.”

The mysterious objects date back as far as the 1st Century. Some experts believe they were possibly linked to Roman rituals or religion, but there are no references to them in any Roman texts.

The volunteers plan to return to the area where the dodecahedron was found in the hope of unearthing more clues.

The Norton Disney dodecahedron, which featured in a recent episode of the BBC Show Digging for Britain, will be on display at Lincoln Museum as part of the city’s Festival of History from Saturday.

Visitors to the festival will also be able to learn more about Lincoln’s Roman past

Alongside the dodecahedron display, visitors can learn more about Lincoln’s Roman past, and explore other finds unearthed across the city and county.

Andrea Martin, exhibitions and interpretations manager at the museum, said having the dodecahedron on show was “a real coup” for local history fans and visitors to the city.

She said the festival was also a chance for residents and visitors alike “to discover more about Lincoln’s story”.

What do you think the object was used for? Share your thoughts by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

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30 March23 February10 May 2023

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