The Cardiff Castle ‘Dodecahedron’

In 2006, GGAT undertook major archaeological excavations inside Cardiff Castle – which is the site of four sequential Roman forts and a medieval castle, the latter converted into a mansion by the Bute ironworking dynasty. The ‘post-excavation’ programme is ongoing, with analysis of the artefacts now nearly complete (visit our Cardiff Castle Post-excavation site to learn more).

One of the most remarkable finds from the dig was a Roman-period ‘dodecahedron’. Made of copper alloy, it is a small hollow object with 12 faces, each with a circular hole in the middle. Across the whole Roman Empire only a hundred or so of this objects have been found. Their purpose is entirely unknown. People have speculated that they could be candle-holders, dice, or survey/measuring instruments. Odder theories include their use for knitting (see this Youtube video for some really bad gloves being made), or as party holders for cheese and pineapple sticks (okay, we made that last one up!). But the truth is, we have no firm idea of what these fascinating and enigmatic objects really were.  All suggestions welcome.


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