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Copper alloy and iron stylus

Roman era, ca. 180-220 AD.

Found during excavations by the archaeological section of the Winchester Museum Service on Victoria Road, Winchester, in the mid to late 1970s.

This elegant iron stylus has two collars and circumferential inlaid brass bands separating the shank from the tip and eraser. Because paper was expensive, it was used with wax and wood boards - wooden leaves stapled together and covered with wax to make a surface for writing.

Contact with the classical world at the end of the Iron Age period led to true literacy in Britain, first in the form of literate inscriptions on Iron Age coins. By the end of the second or early third century, when this stylus was made, literacy was widespread--writing was not limited to villas or tribal capitals such as Winchester, but was found on all types of settlements.