Iron key found at Roman Fort, Newstead, Roxburghshire

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Postcard of Iron key found at Roman Fort, Newstead, Roxburghshire.
© National Museums Scotland

Iron key found at Roman Fort, Newstead, Roxburghshire

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 for a tumbler lock. Tumbler locks had a number of holes on the bolt. The slide key had matching projections, and was used to push the tumblers out of the bolt securing the door.

Concern with security is nothing new. The Romans built doors with handles, hooks and levers. Complicated lock and key mechanisms were also fitted to doors and chests, as evidenced by the large number of keys which have been found.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-037-269-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 1084
Date: Between 80 and 180 AD
Material: Iron
What: Key
Who: Newstead Collection
Where: Scotland, Roxburghshire, Melrose, Newstead
Description: Iron key from Newstead
  • Curle, James. In: Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 47 (1912-3), pp 384-405, esp. p 393, fig. 6. Notes on some undescribed objects from the Roman fort at Newstead, Melrose 
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