Come Face to Face with a Roman at The Senhouse Roman Museum

Jane Laskey, from the Senhouse Roman Museum in Maryport, comes face to face with one of our Roman ancestors.  

It is rare that we ever get the chance to stare into the face of our distant ancestors. When asked what the Romans looked like we usually think about Roman soldiers dressed in red tunics and armour, marching across the world. This is the image that many reenactors attempt to bring to life for us at historic sites and in museums. But is this image accurate?  

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Two thousand years after the Romans arrived in Britain we are left with very few contemporary images of the real people. They only exist in sculptures, wall paintings and mosaics. But these give us a rare chance to look our ancestors in the eye and imagine who they were and what their lives were like. And you think, under the strange clothes and without our modern technology, they are the same as us. They had the same needs to live happy and fulfilled lives as we do, and they felt the same need to understand their place in the world as we do.   

There are very few contemporary images of the Romans who lived in Cumbria 2000 years ago. One of these is a small sculpture of a Genius, or Household God that was discovered in the civil settlement outside the Roman fort at Maryport. This small figure would have been placed in a shrine in a house to protect the head of the household and his family. The figure is in the form of a man in the act of placing a libation on an altar as a gift to the gods. He is portrayed with his carefully curled hair covered by a fold of his toga for this very important ceremony. His neatly folded and draped toga is a symbol of his Roman citizenship and in his right hand he holds a patera, a Roman, one-handled cup used for this most important act.  

This and other Roman objects from the Roman fort and civil settlement at Maryport can be found in the Senhouse Roman Museum, Maryport. Why don’t you pay a visit and meet the ancestors? 

For more information visit  

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