The cupid figurine is cast in copper-alloy. Is shown nude, with chubby face, hair in ringlets and topknot and stubby wings to its back.
He is modelled standing, with his right arm raised and holding an object identified as a club. The latter suggests the figurine was intended as a representation of ‘Cupid as Hercules’. A separately-moulded lionskin may also have been held in the outstretched left hand as an additional identifier of the classical hero.
The combining of Cupid with Hercules is seen with number of other objects from the empire and was probably intended to express this concept ‘the power of love over even the strongest of heroes’.
Of over a thousand metal figurines from Roman Britain (from a 2012 survey), some thirty-three are known to depict Cupid, although this example appears to be the first to show Cupid as Hercules.
Dating is difficult on stylistic groups although the good quality of the moulding makes a date before c. AD 200/250 more likely. Its good quality is also suggested as an indication of continental origins.
Other information & metadata
Site location: Birdlip, Gloucestershire
Project type: Archaeological evaluation
Site type: Rural settlement with possible ritual aspect
Discovery context: Ditch
Cupid – the god of love and other exciting discoveries along the A417 – website article
Archaeological investigation on the route of A417 Missing Link – website article