Incomplete copper alloy Roman seal-box lid. The lid is flat, piriform in shape and has a hinge lug at one end, a separately moulded and stylised phallus is riveted to its face. The phallus moulding contains a small inset which once held enamel, the enamel no longer remaining. The sides of the lid are raised slightly creating a recess between face edge and centre moulding. Although degraded, much of the blue enamelling set within the recess is still retained. The reverse is flat except for the protruding rivet. Approximately one quarter of the lid has broken away at the location spike end leaving a surviving length of 26.75mm.


Roman seal boxes are commonly found in Britain and were used for ensuring packages reached their intended recipient without any unauthorised opening or tampering. The seal box base would be placed on the package and after securing with a cord, a knot was tied and stamped with a wax seal, the knot would be located inside the seal box and closed thus protecting the seal. Most seal boxes display cut out notches either side of one or both compartments allowing the cord to be passed through and the box closed. A location spike fitted into place on a corresponding recess on the seal box bottom helping to ensure it would not be dislodged in transit. Commonly, seal boxes were thought to be in use during the first and second centuries although it is possible they were in use later.


A similar example to the one illustrated above can be found in Richard Hattatt’s ‘Ancient Brooches And Other Artefacts’ number 157.