Somerset

Roman curse tablets from Bath recognised by Unesco

  • 25 June 2014
  • From the section Somerset
Curse tablet
The curse tablets were written by people who believed they had suffered an injustice

Ancient tablets bearing messages from the Roman occupants of Bath seeking revenge from a goddess have been given special status by Unesco.

The 130 artefacts can be seen at the Roman Baths and are now on Unesco's Memory of the World UK register.

The curse tablets are inscribed on small sheets of lead or pewter and date from the 2nd to the 4th Century AD.

People wrote to the Roman goddess Sulis Minerva asking for revenge or for wrongs to be put right.

'Filled with blood'

The personal requests and prayers were written for the goddess by people who believed they had suffered an injustice.

One example is from someone who sought revenge for the theft of a bronze vessel - they asked that it be "filled with the blood of the thief".

The Roman Baths said the tablets are "extremely difficult to read and translate". Most are written in Latin but one curse was written in British Celtic and is thought to be the only text known to survive in that language.

The curse tablets are the only artefacts from Roman Britain to have been added to the register, which aims to raise awareness of some of the UK's exceptional documentary riches.

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