Artifacts from Roman London

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A very beautiful head in bronze, evidently belonging to a colossal statue of the Emperor Hadrian, was dredged up from the river a little below Old London Bridge on the Southwark side, in the year 1837, and only narrowly escaped the melting pot through the exertions of John Newman, F.S.A.

The head exhibits many of those unmistakable characteristics of Hadrian so familiar to us from the many antique marble busts preserved in museums both at home and abroad. The expression of the features is thoughtful and self-reliant, the nose and brow straight, the mouth firmly set, and the lips well defined.

The hair on the head is arranged in short stiff curls, and is without the usual laurel of the Roman Emperors; the beard is full and slightly wavy, but is closely clipped; the ears show signs of bad modelling, and these and several other imperfections in the casting would lead one to the opinion that it is of colonial workmanship. The eyes are pierced, and may have seen filled with some kind of enamel; the neck is full, and the head well set on it.

The other parts of the statue have not been found, and may be now reposing in the river mud, which, as a rule, acts as a great preservative to bronze objects. Hadrian was well known to the citizens of London of that day, and carried his legions far north to subjugate the Picts and Scots, renewing and strengthening the wall originally built by Agricola from Carlisle to Wallsend.

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