Mess can (detail)

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From Newstead, Roxburghshire

Postcard of Mess can (detail).
© National Museums Scotland

Mess can (detail)

This is a detail of a bronze mess can found at the site of the Roman fort at Newstead in Roxburghshire. It has letters punched into the metal, showing that even ordinary soldiers were literate to some degree. The mess can was used between 80 and 180 AD.

The mess can has the centurial mark and two letters formed by punched dots. A century was a military division. Each legion was divided into cohorts, each of which was composed of a century of 80 men.

Many mass-produced articles in the Roman world were stamped or inscribed by the manufacturers to indicate the makers, contents, dates or ownership, suggesting basic literacy amongst a wide section of the Roman population.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-190-001-187-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 1186
Date: Between 80 and 180 AD
Material: Bronze; bearing punctured inscription with the centurial mark
Dimensions: 240 mm H x 300 mm Dia (max)
What: Kettle, camp
Who: Newstead Collection
Where: Scotland, Roxburghshire, Melrose, Newstead
Description: Bronze camp kettle bearing punctured inscription with the centurial mark, from Newstead
  • Clarke, D.V., Breeze, D.J., and Mackay, G. The Romans in Scotland. An introduction to the collections of the National Museums of Antiquities of Scotland. Edinburgh: National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, 1980, p 43. 
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