Posted on June 28, 2018
Archaeologists have discovered an ancient Roman “hand of god” – but the story it tells is tragically anything but heavenly. The hand – unearthed near Hadrian’s Wall and made of 2.3 kilos of solid bronze – was almost certainly a gift to a military deity for giving the Romans victory in the largest military combat operation ever carried out in Britain, before or since.
The operation – a relatively little-known Roman invasion of Scotland in 209-210 AD – was also probably one of the bloodiest events in British history. It involved a 50,000 strong Roman invasion force, elements of which penetrated as far north as Aberdeenshire. It’s likely that thousands of tribespeople in what is now Scotland (mainly from the Caledonian and Maeatae tribal confederations) were killed. The Romans claimed that the native chieftains had reneged on a peace agreement – and were therefore rebels, not just ordinary enemies. It is likely that the sacred bronze hand was ritually buried by one of the Roman commanders who had taken part in the conflict.