Roman 'Pendants' Revealed to be Ancient Makeup Applicators
Rare Roman cosmetic sets shown in English Heritage's new History Inspired Makeup Tutorial are on display at Wroxeter Roman City for the first time.
Researchers at English Heritage have discovered that previously identified Roman pendants at Wroxeter Roman City in Shropshire were actually cosmetic sets used for eye make-up.
A selection of these objects are on display at Wroxeter for the first time from today as English Heritage releases a new Roman History Inspired Makeup Tutorial based on some of this evidence. The video will be live on YouTube from 7pm tonight.
Originally these copper alloy objects, that were excavated at Wroxeter in the early 20th century, were catalogued as 'lunate pendants'. However, re-examination by English Heritage Collections Curator, Cameron Moffett, at the Roman site have revealed that they were used to grind minerals for make-up and were specially shaped to be used on the eye for applying liner and shadows. Known as cosmetic grinders, these small mortar and pestle sets had suspension loops that allowed them to be carried on a cord, a feature which led to their earlier categorisation as pendants.
Developed in the 1st century AD, these ancient cosmetic sets were exclusive to Britain, and were a response to the import of cosmetics and ideas about personal beauty coming from the Mediterranean and Roman provinces as far away as Egypt. Their discovery highlights the thriving, prosperous and metropolitan place that Wroxeter Roman City was over 2,000 years ago.
Cameron Moffett, English Heritage Collections Curator, said:
'Being able to re-identify these pendants as cosmetic sets is hugely important to our understanding of the women who lived and worked at Wroxeter Roman City – these small objects literally changed the face of Britain.
'When we think of the Roman period, conversation is often dominated by the masculine realms of influence, from Emperors and politics to battle tactics, but of course women played a key role. It’s these functional, everyday items that really paint a picture of relatable women, to whom make-up was wholly accessible, following the trends of the time and using tools so similar to the ones we use today.'
Coinciding with the new objects on display at Wroxeter Roman City, English Heritage will release a new Roman History Inspired Make-Up Tutorial tonight as part of its popular YouTube series. The video will be live at 7pm.
Taking inspiration from Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus in the 3rd century AD, the tutorial features a demonstration of how to apply eyeliner using a replica cosmetic grinder.
The History Inspired Makeup Series series sees Fashion Historian Amber Butchart and Makeup Artist Rebecca Butterworth recreate looks from history including Elizabeth I at Kenilworth Castle, which has received more than 4 million views on YouTube.
Find out more about the history of Wroxeter Roman City.
Plan your visit to Wroxeter Roman City.
Latest News from
Winter Solstice Sunrise to be Live Streamed From Stonehenge05/11/2020 16:33:00
Due to the pandemic, English Heritage cannot host the usual celebrations at the prehistoric stones.
Blue Plaque For Artist Barbara Hepworth30/10/2020 12:02:00
Sculptors Barbara Hepworth and John Skeaping honoured at their London home and studio, 24 St Ann's Terrace in St John's Wood.
New Portrait of Queen Victoria’s African Goddaughter Goes on Display at Osborne07/10/2020 12:25:00
English Heritage commissions portraits of black figures associated with its historic sites to tell previously overlooked stories.
New Poems Tell The Untold Stories of English Heritage01/10/2020 16:08:00
Six poets have been commissioned by English Heritage for a new digital anthology, including its Poet in Residence who leads a poetry programme to launch Black History Month
London's Blue Plaques, Statues And Black Lives Matter17/06/2020 13:10:00
English Heritage looks after 48 statues and monuments in London, including the Cenotaph and Marble Arch.
Unsung Heroes of Dunkirk Evacuation Revealed on 80th Anniversary26/05/2020 15:48:00
Dunkirk 1940: The Making of the Miracle – English Heritage's online event tells the story of the evacuation day-by-day.
Working From Home: English Heritage Style06/04/2020 15:48:00
As sites remain closed to the public, English Heritage staff are taking some weird and wonderful work home with them.
Shropshire Woodland That Hid Charles II to be Restored17/03/2020 12:33:00
New trees will be planted in the grounds of Boscobel House, propagated from the DNA of the Royal Oak linked to Charles II.