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The History of Locks Museum
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 Roman Keys and Locks 

Roman Casket Keys

Roman Casket key, 32mm, Bronze, c. 2nd Century Roman Casket key, 48mm, Bronze, c. 2nd CenturyRoman Casket key, 52mm, Bronze, c. 2nd Century
Casket key.

Bronze, 32mm, c 2nd century AD.
Casket key.

Bronze, 48mm, c 2nd century AD.
Casket key
with decorated lower stem.

Bronze, 52mm, c 2nd century AD.
Pankofer (Schüssel und Scbloß, 1974, p39) shows an illustration of a similar key and how it engages the bolt.
Also shown is a typical style of chest lock, beautifully engraved, complete with one hasp.
Roman Locks and Lock Fragments

Roman Casket key, 52mm, Bronze, c. 2nd Century Roman Casket key, 52mm, Bronze, c. 2nd Century Roman Casket key, 52mm, Bronze, c. 2nd Century

Lock bolt assortment.

Bronze, Typically c 2nd/3rd century AD.
Top left: 61 x 14 mm. Top right: 70 x 13 mm. Bottom: 68 x 19 mm.

ROMAN
KEYS & LOCKS

Casket Keys
Locks

The Romans didn’t invent the lock but they did miniaturise it. The ancient Egyptian design was developed and improved using bronze instead of wood.

The Romans were experts in casting in bronze, which they had learned from the Greeks. All manner of objects were produced, especially figurines, using one of several techniques. Keys and lock parts were produced using the 'solid method'.

Bronze is an alloy of 90% copper and 10% tin. Although copper was found locally around the Mediterranean, tin on the other hand had to be imported. Cornwall was one of the primary sources for tin and the trade route was well established before the Roman Invasion of England in 64AD.

The simplest method and that used for producing keys and lock parts was the 'solid method'. A model of the object was first made in wax. It was then covered in clay and fired, the wax ran out and the clay hardened thus producing a mould. The molten bronze could then be poured into the clay mould which when cooled was simply broken away revealing the object.
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If you would like to know more about the artefacts in the collection you are welcome to ask questions or join in with the discussions on the History of Locks Forum.
Simply email requesting a password.
We are keen to extend the artefacts in this collection, don’t hesitate to contact our Curator if you can help in any way.
We especially would like to hear from you if you, or your ancestors, were involved with locks and keys.


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This page was last updated January 2012
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