Roman building fragments
Canterbury Roman Museum collections include a wide range of carved stones, roof and floor tiles, fragments of painted plaster and parts of drains from Canterbury’s public buildings and private houses.
Roof and floor tiles were mass-produced by hand and fired in kilns, close to where they were to be used. Left outdoors to harden before firing, the tiles were often run across by dogs, children or carts, leaving prints or ruts. There are many tiles with paw prints, and a few with the footprints of Roman children.
One roof tile, from a Roman bathhouse at Plaxtol, bears the signature of its maker. Makers gave tiles roughened surfaces, to help wall plaster stick, by using grooved rollers on damp clay. This maker carved a Latin inscription with his name into the roller, which reads ‘I, Cabrianus, made this wall tile’.
Curved ‘imbrex’ roof tiles joined flat ‘tegula’ ones, covering the raised edges of the ‘tegula’. Square tiles were used to create floor-support pillars for ‘hypocaust’ under-floor heating systems. Hollow box-shaped flue tiles were built into the walls of baths and houses to carry hot air from the ‘hypocaust’.
Many homes and public buildings had painted plaster walls. Fragments include the feet of a dancing female with swirling skirt, coloured border patterns and floral patterns.
Roman roof tile with maker's name impressed.