The Hinckley Roman Bust

The Hinckley Roman Bust found in a heap of rubbish at Hinckley Grammar School in 1930

Postcard of the Hinckley Roman Bust
Postcard of the Hinckley Roman Bust

During early January 1930 some carved stones were found in a heap of rubbish at the corner of the Hinckley Grammar School field by a Grammar School boy named Allen Mawby. Allen took them to Mr G.E.S. Coxhead, who was the Headmaster at the time to report the find. Mr G.E.S. Coxhead had a suspicion that the carved stones were in fact a Roman sculpture of a bust. The puzzling question of how the Roman Bust came to be in the place where it was found.

Arthur J. Pickering carried out a number of excavations on the site. The rubbish heap where the Roman Bust was found was near the hedgerow dividing the Grammar School playing-field from the garden at the rear of the Priory Barn Cottage, at a distance of 30 feet from the Leicester Road fence. Trial holes near this spot in the field and garden gave undisturbed ground below 12-18 inches of loam, but in the front garden of the cottage a hollow 3ft or more in depth appeared to have been filled np with rubbish. This consisted mainly of brick and tile work and along with a good deal of wall plaster. Arthur obtained a fragment of a Roman jar and a piece of wall plaster with white cement surface and a narrow line of dark-red pigment.

Arthur made some enquiries and found that the site had been used as a tip during the demolition of some old cottages that were near to the Parish Church of St. Marys, known as Hunter’s Row. This group of cottages stood on the site of the old Priory. Arthur thought that a further search should be made in the vicinity of the Church or Argents' Mead. Beneath Argents' Mead, now laid out as a park, subterranean passages are traditionally believed to connect the castle with the church.

Photographs were sent from Arthur to Mr Reginald Smith, F.S.A., of the British Museum who confirms the sculptures Roman origin and states that it probably dates from the First Century. Dr. Felix Oswald, D.Sc., F.S.A., stated that the sculpture is certainly important find, he said “the arrangement of the hair on the forehead is similar to the heads of Augustus and Trajan and in general of male heads of the First Century".

The sculptured stones bearing close resemblance to the first-century work of the Romans is a life-size bust of a Roman citizen of youthful appearance, which is carved from a block of oolitic limestone. The features are unfortunately badly mutilated and the stone has been much weathered over time, but in spite of this the work is impressive and vigorous as it retains much of the classic beauty of the Romans.

The height of the Hinckley Bust is 15.5 inches and the width of the base is 9 inches. A hole has been drilled in the base for the insertion of a wood or metal dowel, which would suggest that the bust once stood on a plinth or was fastened to the base of a niche or small alcove.

Hinckley Roman Bust Hinckley Roman Bust
The Hinckley Roman Bust (left/top), Drawing of the Roman Bust (right/bottom)