In 1996, a Roman intaglio was found washed up on the Thames foreshore with an image of a warship. It was found in Southwark by archaeology student Alan Ross. It is made from a yellowish carnelian, has a convex face and is in almost perfect condition. It obviously fell out of the original setting and into the river bed where it eroded out sometime in the 1990’s.

The warship displayed on the intaglio is a rowing galley, with a figurehead of a goose or swan. The lattice along the side of the vessel depicts the parados or side gangway balustrude that protected the mariners; the rudder is at an angle and below the water line and the water is shown by the horizontal line halfway down the ship and through the hatchings beneath it.

It probably dates to the 3rd century and may have been the property of a fleet commander or captain in the Classis Britannica – which suggests some naval connection to Roman Londinium – or it may have belonged to a merchant, importing goods by sea, and wearing this ring as a talisman for protection against piracy or damage…

Henig, M. and Ross, A. 1998 ‘A Roman Intaglio Depicting a Warship from the Foreshore at King’s Reach, Winchester Wharf, Southwark’ Britannia, Vol. 29, 325-327