Excavated inscription plate contains Roman curse
Excavations in the English city of Leicester have now unearthed an inscribed plate with a curse carved in Latin. The lead tablet from the second or third century AD gives researchers a unique insight into everyday culture, language and religion in what was then Roman England. Archaeologists from the University of Leicester have excavated extensive areas of the city center over the past three years, uncovering remains of the city's Roman and medieval history.
The inscription, which has only been partially deciphered so far, reads in German: "To the god Maglus I give the evildoer who stole the cloak of Servandus. New Year's Eve, Riomandus […] that before the ninth day he destroy him, the person who stole Servandus' cloak […]". Attached to this was a list of 18 or 19 suspects, whose further fate is unfortunately not recorded.
Of inscriptions with similar content that have already been found, it is known that, unlike the object found, the plates were usually rolled up and attached to the wall of a temple or shrine. "Give to the god Maglus I the evildoer who stole the cloak of Servandus. Silvester, Riomandus […] that he destroy him before the ninth day, the person who stole the cloak of Servandus"
(Roman curse) There may even have been professional curse writers whose services illiterate victims could make use of. The researchers conclude from the forms of names used in the curses and the value of the stolen objects that the simpler population in particular used this method.
In addition, the colloquial Latin and the origin of the names give an impression of the cultural conditions in the province of Brittania: There are both purely Roman names such as Silvester or Germanus, as well as names that are of Celtic origin (Riomandus, Cunovendus). Roman names such as Regalis, which are only found in Celtic provinces, occupy a middle position. Maglus, the title of the god, could also be a Celtic title meaning "prince".