Roman ‘Fertility Eagle’ from Selkirk

The incipit of an item from the Selkirk Advertiser:

A Roman symbol of fertility found near Selkirk, shaped like an eagle emerging from a flower with a berry in its mouth, highlights the discoveries made in Scotland in this year’s Treasure Trove Report.

The talisman, excavated in 2010 by a local metal detectorist between Selkirk and Galashiels, is believed to have adorned a Roman wagon or chariot, and is the first relic of its kind to be found north of the border.

The report described the artifact as: “A copper alloy mount in the shape of an eagle head, the sacred bird of Juno, found near Selkirk. The eagle is depicted emerging from a flower with a berry held in the beak and was intended as a symbol of good luck or fertility. Mounts of this type were used on the supporting frames of Roman wagons and this is the first such mount from Scotland, with only a small number known from Britain.”

Selkirk historian Walter Elliot, to whom the finder took the object for identification, guessed its ancient origin by the “patination”: “I knew it was not a modern find because it was bronze-green with age. It looked very Roman, but I wasn’t sure.”

It took his friend, archeologist Dr Fraser Hunter of Glasgow University, who had seen an identical copper eagle in York, to identify the rare artifact as Roman. […]

… and here’s the small photo that’s included:

via the Selkirk Advertiser

Now unfortunately, as I write this, the Portable Antiquities Scheme seems to be doing maintenance or something and I can’t get an official description but check this thing out:

via the Portable Antiquities Scheme

… which is clearly an analog and is designated in the photo description as a cartfitting. Where this ‘fertility’ association comes from is beyond me.

3 thoughts on “Roman ‘Fertility Eagle’ from Selkirk

  1. I’ll be very interested if they can make this claim. The iconography of Mary’s conceiving Jesus has a dove delivering through the ear, and this sort of symbol, if it was read as claimed, may illustrate one strand in this complex imagery. (I tried to make that sentence say something specific — hope it comes across.)

    1. Thanks for that … plenty of analogs and once again we have to wonder where the heck they get a fertility connection …

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