Prehistory & Roman

Barnhill Mercury figurine

This small bronze figurine of the Roman god Mercury was found in a garden in Barnhill, Perth in 1936.  In the early 20th century a souterrain was discovered in the same vicinity and the two may be related.  Mercury is shown holding a purse or money-bag.  He was a popular god with merchants and was also invoked as the protector of the pay of the Roman army.  The figurine may have belonged to a soldier or have been traded to the souterrain owners.

Bronze Age and medieval flints

These two flint tools were recovered from the Perth High Street during the 1975-78 excavations in advance of the construction of a Marks and Spencers store. Both are in origin Bronze Age – one an arrowhead and one a struck flake – and both were appropriated for other uses during the medieval period.

The arrowhead was found in a post-hole and appears to have been deliberately placed there as a charm to ward off evil and thunder and lightning. A lightning strike could set the house on fire. The struck flake was found in a midden and has wear consistent with use as a medieval strike-a-light.

Cambus Bronze Age sword

This Late Bronze Age sword was collected in 1785 by the Perth Literary and Antiquarian Society. This was the founding body of what is now Perth Museum and Art Gallery.

The sword was dredged from the River Forth at Cambus. It was initially identified as Roman. It was apparently found with a piece of human skull attached to it.

At some point in the 19th century the sword and its provenance became separated and the sword was later attributed to a grave in Crieff.
Examination of the sword and early acquisition records in the archives of the Perth Literary and Antiquarian Society has allowed this error to be corrected.

The sword is likely to have been ritually deposited in the River Forth, in the Late Bronze Age, some 3,000 years ago. It is a significant addition to the inventory of Late Bronze age metalwork from the Forth Valley in particular and from riverine contexts in Scotland in general.

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