From around 150 AD, this beautifully designed Roman oil lamp has a fascinating history. Bulls were significant to the Romans, who used them as sacrifices during religious ceremonies and included them in numerous myths and legends.
But this lamp was not only seen as a precious object to the Romans, as the original of this lamp was found in the arrow slit of a medieval castle, where it lay undiscovered for around 500 years. The arrow slit was once part of an old stairwell but was hidden along with the lamp under a pile of rubble left there when the castle was rebuilt around the 15th century. The rebuild was due to the newly invented canon, which meant that the old walls were too thin to withstand an attack from these new and fearsome weapons.
Clearly, the new build was a success as the beautiful Chillingham Castle has since withstood the test of time, as has the family bloodline. Today you can visit the stunning grounds and garden, where you will catch a glimpse of the original bull lamp. You may even spy a ghost, as the castle is renowned for its spectral guests and paranormal activity.
Believed by some to be a depiction of the wild Chillingham cattle that still roam the hills around Chillingham Castle, Northumberland, the design shows the distinctive horns that jut out sideways and the crop of curly hair that are features synonymous with this ancient breed.
Probably left as a good luck offering by the Medieval builders when the new walls of the Medieval Castle were built, the lamp remained in near perfect conditions until its discovery. I’d say that was pretty good luck!
This lamp comes with one cotton wick so that you can use your lamp as soon as you have read the safety instructions. One wick will give you hours of light if used correctly, but should you wish to have more than one wick. You can purchase spare wicks by following this link: Lamp Wicks
As with all our Museum Quality Replicas, we have made this pot, as the original would have been, entirely by hand from natural clay and using replicas of the types of tools that the ancient makers would have used. As each pot varies, you may not receive the vessel in the image, but you can be sure that your pot will be one of a kind due to the variations caused by the firing process.
Terracotta earthenware with a red slip finish
Approx 215 mm long, 70 mm high, 110 mm wide
Health and Safety
Before attempting to use your lamp, you must read the operating and safety instructions.
Burn ONLY OLIVE OIL in your lamp.
DO NOT use modern lamp oil or other flammable liquids.
Place the lamp on a stable, non-absorbent and non-flammable surface, far from any sources of heat.
Always snuff out the flame, never blow it out. Never use water to extinguish the flame.
DO NOT attempt to move or pick up your lamp whilst it is lit.
Ensure that there are no flammable materials above or near the lamp.
DO NOT leave your lamp unattended whilst it is lit.
Keep the wick trimmed very short to ensure a clean, bright flame and to reduce the risk of fire.
This lamp is not a toy; KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.
Use of this lamp is at your own risk; we cannot take responsibility for accidents or injury caused by the use of this lamp.
Extinguish the lamp by snuffing it out with a metal spoon.
Before filling your lamp, adjust the wick so that it does not protrude above the edge of the wick aperture.
Fill the lamp with olive oil through the filler hole in the centre (allow the wick to soak for 1 hour before lighting for the first time).
Light the lamp. If the flame produces smoke, shorten the wick. This can be done by gripping the wick with tweezers through the filler hole and gently turning it round, rewinding the wick into the wick aperture. This should not be done whilst the lamp is lit, or the wick is still hot.
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