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Mess can

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found at Newstead, Roxburghshire

Mess can
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This bronze mess can is one of a number found at the site of the Roman fort at Newstead in Roxburghshire. They were an important part of the ordinary Roman soldier's cooking equipment, used for cooking over fires. It dates from between 80 and 180 AD.

The mess can has an everted rim and bears a punched inscription reading 'Turma Crispi Nigri' ('Troop of Crispus, property of Niger'). Like all of the mess cans from Newstead, this example shows considerable signs of wear.

Brought to Scotland by the Romans, writing was a vital part of the bureaucracy generated by the army. Many Roman soldiers could read and write to some extent, and marked their names on their belongings.

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