Talks on Magic in Roman Britain

Tags: Roman Britain, Hadrian's Wall, magic, Archaeology

On Thursday 9th June, we were delighted to welcome Adam Parker, assistant curator at the Yorkshire Museum, to the classics centre! Adam specialises in Roman magic and he delivered two exciting and highly informative talks on the topic of magic in Roman Britain, one to Year 8 Latinists, and another as a community talk in the evening to Cheney students ranging from Year 8 to 12, as well as a number of visitors and parents.

His talk explored the possible definitions of magic, and how it connects to and differs from Roman religious belief; magic was shown to be concerned with taking supernatural powers from the gods and using it for oneself, through places, objects, words and images. Adam talked the groups through Roman spells, including how they were usually written in Greek, and including complicated rituals and objects - such as toe-nails, hair, honey, milk and a falcon! 

He also explored the different good luck charms that have been found across Britain, including many at Hadrian's Wall, and how and why they were thought to be magical and to protect against superstitions such as the evil eye. Similarities with well-known superstitions such as crossing one's fingers and saying "bless you" when someone sneezes were pointed out. 

Adam gave a really enjoyable and fascinating pair of talks, delivered in a very lively and accessible way. We are very grateful for all his time and energy in visiting the classics centre.