THE TARLTON HOARDA GROUP OF SIX ROMANO-BRITISH LEAD CURSE TABLETS
CIRCA 150-300 A.D.
A GROUP OF SIX ROMANO-BRITISH LEAD CURSE TABLETS CIRCA 150-300 A.D. A rare insight into Romano-British ritual practices, and the third largest hoard of curse tablets discovered in England. The largest 71 x 103 mm. Comprising six fragmentary lead tablets, all written in Old Roman Cursive, with two further lead tablets, both 4th century, one with a Greek magical palindrome and the other with unreadable characters. Provenance: (1) Found near Tarlton, Gloucerstershire (items 1-6). (2) Nicholas Wright, London. (3) Dr Jeremy Griffiths, Oxford, sold in 1993 to: (4) Schøyen Collection, MS 1720/1-8. The largest with six lines of legible script reading: 'To the god Mercury Arverius, I complain to you, lord, concerning my property, a cloak and hood. Whoever stole this, whether slave or free, whoever stole this, the god is not to let them stand or sit, drink or eat, unless they redeem it at your temple with their own blood.' The second tablet with three fragmentary lines of script; the third with seven lines of script with two words legible; the fourth with seven lines of script with an appeal for restitution to the local god, identified with Mars; the fifth with seven lines of indistinct script on one face and two on the other; the sixth with six lines of script; together with two other lead tablets, one with a Greek magical palindrome and a Maskelli Maskello formula, circa 4th Century A.D., and another with magical script of unreadable characters, circa 4th Century A.D. Of the eight present tablets, six were reputedly found together near Tarlton, Gloucestershire. There are several interesting dialect spellings, possibly reflecting the version of Latin written and spoken by the British Dobunni tribe. The Greek magical tablet has the same appearance and patination as the Tarlton tablets. X-ray Fluorescence testing has provided a result confirming a similar lead content suggesting it comes from the same source as the hoard. The Maskelli Maskello magical invocation is best known from Egyptian magical papyri and lead tablets found in Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean. The presence of such a sophisticated magical text in Roman-Britain is therefore highly unusual. Exhibited: Comité International de Paléographie Latine (CIPL), Senate House, University of London, 3 September 2008.