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from Newstead, Roxburghshire

Postcard of Key.
© National Museums Scotland


This iron key was found during excavations at the site of the Roman fort at Newstead in Roxburghshire. It was used sometime between 80 and 180 AD.

The key is a type sometimes termed a lift-key. It worked with a simple tumbler lock, where the key passed through the keyhole and was moved until the teeth fit into the holes, lifting the tumblers clear of the bolt.

Keys of various forms are commonly found on Roman sites in Britain. The form of tumbler lock for which this key was used was common on Roman sites. Most lift-keys, as in this case, have two teeth.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-037-263-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 1081
Date: Between 80 and 180 AD
Material: Iron
Who: Newstead Collection
Where: Scotland, Roxburghshire, Melrose, Newstead
Description: Iron key from Newstead
  • Curle, J. A Roman frontier post and its people: the fort of Newstead. Glasgow: MacLehose, 1911, Pl. LXXVIII, 2. 
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