The fourth archaeology object we are showcasing to celebrate this week’s annual Festival of Archaeology (11-19 July) run by the Council of British Archaeology (CBA), is a rare bronze statuette of a stag.
With its intricately detailed mane and antlers, the stag is an important example of Romano-British art. It was made over two thousand years ago, during which time three of its legs have experienced some damage. It measures 9cm in length and 16.5cm in height and has recessed eye-sockets which may once have contained precious or decorative stones.
The statuette is understood to have been discovered by a metal detectorist immediately to the north of Brighton, but evidence for where exactly it was found is scarce. It appeared in Christie’s London sale rooms on 16 July 1985 and was sold to an overseas buyer. However, in November 1985 the Reviewing Committee on the Export Works of Art determined the stag was ‘of national importance’ and the Committee’s recommendation to withhold an export license for six months was accepted. This enabled Brighton Museum to source funding to purchase it, including from the National Arts Collections Fund, the Purchase Grant Fund administered by the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Friends of the Royal Pavilion.
Even though little is known about the stag, its discovery does provide evidence about the beliefs of Romano-British people and an insight into bronze production methods. When Brighton Museum reopens, this unique stag can be seen on display in the Elaine Evans Archaeology Gallery.
Explore other objects in our Festival of Archaeology series
Heather York, Curator