On Tuesday 13th November, David Dawson and Tony Hack delivered a thoroughly fascinating lecture about the ‘Calne Fates’ as they are now known. The ‘Fates’ was formerly just a block of stone found within the grounds of St Mary's by our Estate Bursar, but detecting it could be of historical significance, he enlisted the help of the Wiltshire Museum, who identified it as possibly coming from a substantial and important Roman funerary monument.

David Dawson explained how Calne was situated between two fairly large Roman towns, and indeed much archaeological evidence has been found in Calne to suggest there was a significant Roman presence in the nearby area. Remains of a considerable Roman villa have been uncovered elsewhere in the town, and Mr Dawson conjectured that it is possible the Fates could have been part of the funerary monument of the villa’s main resident, as it was clearly the dwelling of a person of importance.

Tony Hack explained how, through careful conservation and the use of some very high-tech computer programs, they have been able to strip back the decay of time in order to interpret the Fates in a much clearer light. The Reverend Professor Martin Henig, an eminent specialist, was able to conclude that the block displayed three standing female deities, mother goddesses known as the Fates, or the Parcae. Their individual names are: Lachesis who measured the thread of life, seen with her measure over her shoulder; Klotho, who span the thread of life on her spindle but who, on the stone, carries scales and is holding a scroll, and Atropos who cut life's thread and chose the way a person would die.

The find is particularly significant as it is the only example discovered within England and one of only five throughout the Roman Empire. The original stone will remain amongst the Museum’s collections, however, the school commissioned a 3D-printed copy made from gypsum which will be on display in the school. It was wonderful to hear such passionate speakers discuss this significant object found within our own school grounds and the lecture was enjoyed by both the girls and many of Calne’s residents.

For further information regarding the Calne Fates and to view a 3D model of the sculpture, please visit the Wiltshire Museum website

Miss Louise Cavanagh, Classics Teacher