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Bronze Leg from Hawick : The Milsington Leg NMS ref: Q.L.1920.1

Home | Archive | Bronze Leg from Hawick : The Milsington Leg NMS ref: Q.L.1920.1

This bronze leg from Hawick formerly belonged to a larger than life-size statue, presumably of an emperor or prominent military leader. The figure would have been seated upon a horse and sported a matching spur on the back of the heel. Dated to around AD 100-180, this bronze leg was found at the site if Milsington, near Hawick. The location of this find was once an important part of a network of Roman highways, and is a testament to the robust and dynamic system of infrastructure created at the time.

The leg itself would have been created by layering sheets of wax to form the initial shape, which would later be surrounded in a bronze cast and fired. Seeing as this object is a part of a greater statue, it would have been created in various stages and later attached to the rest of the figure. Why then, do we only see the bronze leg today, and not the entire statue? It is unlikely the leg was looted by locals, as it appears to have been removed with care and precision. Scholars suggest that the statue was removed in parts and the bronze was later recycled, either after the fort where this statue stood was abandoned, or after the leader it was a representation of had fallen from power. The leg was found within a bog alongside a bronze plinth. It is unknown whether the two objects are associated, or if there is any meaning attached to their placement in the bog.

The Milsington Leg is currently on display in the National Museum of Scotland as a part of the Iron Age and Roman Collections. Further research, including X-ray imaging and metal analysis, are to be undertaken to further understand the creation of this piece.


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