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From Newstead, Roxburghshire

Postcard of Compasses.
© National Museums Scotland


This pair of iron compasses was found during excavations at the site of the Roman fort at Newstead in Roxburghshire. They were used by a carpenter between 80 and 100 AD.

Unlike modern compasses, the legs of these compasses swivelled on a pin located at mid-length. The upper end of one leg is missing.

The Roman army employed professional carpenters for the many woodworking tasks involved in building and maintaining structures and in providing equipment for the troops. The Roman carpentry kit was specialised.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-036-983-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.FRA 323
Date: Between 80 and 100 AD
Material: Iron
What: Compasses, carpenter's
Who: Newstead Collection
Where: Scotland, Roxburghshire, Melrose, Newstead
Description: Pair of carpenter's iron compasses, from Newstead
  • Curle, J. A Roman frontier post and its people: the fort of Newstead. Glasgow: MacLehose, 1911, p 309, Pl. LXXXII, 9. 
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