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5. Lead tank from Walesby

This is part of an early Christian Roman lead baptismal font dating from the 4th Century, which features a unique depiction of a baptism.

In the top left hand corner of the tank, male and female figures are shown either side of a female figure getting ready to be baptised. The tank would have been used as a font for baptism by affusion, a method of baptism where water is poured over the head of the person being baptised. The Chi-Rho clearly marked on the tank indicates it is Christian. This symbol, taken from the first two Greek letters of Christos, was used by the Emperor Constantine I on his standards at the battle of Milvian Bridge. It was because of his victory there that he made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Other examples of lead tanks from Roman Britain used as fonts have been found but no others have had the figural decoration.

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Last updated: 22 February 2011

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