show three similar finds. The earliest was made by Lord Braybrooke in 1854 at Great Chesterford in Essex, where ninety-six objects were found at the bottom of a Roman well.[1] Again, at Silchester there have been two discoveries of such deposits. The first, which was made in 1890, consisted of sixty-six pieces.[2] The second, which belongs to 1900, contained over one hundred articles.[3] Both collections, like that from Newstead, appear to have formed the stock-in-trade of a smith, comprising his tools and material, along with some of his finished goods. In addition to the smith's hoard from Pit XVI, forty to fifty iron objects came from the ditch of the early fort, and a small number of well-preserved tools from other pits. As the association of the articles comprising these finds has been indicated in dealing with the pits and wells themselves, it is possible here to treat them in classes rather than in accidental groups.

The Axes of the Pioneers

In the sculptures of the Trajan column there are many representations of the pioneers at work, clearing the forest growths and levelling the ground as they constructed the highways for the army. In their hands they swing a heavy pick-axe, the dolabra. One end of the head is fashioned like the blade of an axe, the other like a curved pick. It is used to destroy a wall as well as to beat down a Dacian palisade. Specimens of this very tool have been recovered from the Newstead pits. Several of them are unrusted, but their jagged edges and their worn points are eloquent of vigorous usage and of hard toil in making broad the narrow ways.[4] Five of these dolabrae are figured in Plate LVII. Fig. 1, which differs slightly in type from the rest, came from Pit LXI. The whole length is 14½ inches. The pick shows a simple curve downwards. The axe measures 3½ inches along the edge. In the centre is what is known as a slip eye, slightly wider at the upper end of the aperture than the lower, with side clips. The weight is 4 lbs. 4 oz. The lower surface of the axe-blade near the eye bears a circular stamp with letters now illegible, no doubt the name of the maker. Figs. 2, 3, 4 and 5 are all of the same pattern, and were found together in Pit XVI. It will be noted that the curve of the pick is not the same as that seen in Fig. 1, and that its section is hexagonal. The largest of the four (Fig. 5) weighs 6 lbs.

1 Archaeological Journal, vol. xiii. p. 1.

2 Archaeologia, vol. liv. p. 139.

3 Ibid. vol. lvii. p. 246.

4 Cichorius, Die Trajanssäule, Taf. lxvii. 242, Taf. lxx. 254, Taf. lxxxvii. 314. 'Correptis securibus et dolabris ut si murum perrumperet.' Tacitus, Annals, book iii. c. 46. 'Quod si angustae sunt viae sed tamen tutae melius eat praecedere cum securibus ac dolabris milites et cum labore aperire vias quam in optimo itinere periculum sustinere.' Vegetius, iii. 6.