“The Venus Stone, focal point of this year’s innovative literary Festival in Maryport at the end of November, has just undergone a historical facelift. It seems she may be a true Venus after all!
Always interpreted as a representation of a ‘lady of the night’, the Venus was thought to be hanging about outside the fort gateway, with more than literature on her mind, and was possibly a sign for a brothel in the fort. However, new insights into the greater significance of the Venus Stone have recently come to light.
The figure next to the gateway is probably a true statue of Venus standing in a substantial temple dedicated to her, says stone expert Dr. Peter Hill. Dr Hill, in a Review of the collections at the Museum, has pointed out that the sculpture itself is of high-quality workmanship with the gateway shown with pillared arches. The temple has finely carved columns with capitals supporting an arch.
The stone itself would have been part of a major gateway within the fort. The gateway, the only contemporary representation of a gateway to a Roman fort, is the pattern used for reconstructions on Roman sites and films.
Archaeologist Lindsay Allason-Jones has further interpreted the sculpture as representing Venus in her role as a protector of men, but this year’s LitFest, the third to be based around a stone in the Roman collection, will be exploring every aspect of the Goddess of Love!”
Read all about it at www.senhousemuseum.co.uk
or contact Jane Laskey at the Museum on 01900 816168