AN Alcester pensioner was surprised to discover the bowl he had been using as a bird bath was actually a rare, almost complete, 2,000 year old Roman relic.

Ray Taylor, of Roman Way, aged 84, found the pottery bowl in his garden about 10 years ago when he dug up the ground while planting rhubarb and decided to leave it outside for the birds in his garden.

After his daughter Rebecca visited the Roman Alcester Heritage Centre in Globe House and noticed similar items on display, she suggested her Dad bring the bowl along to the museum to find out more about it.

During the Roman Festival event at Globe House in May, Sara Wear, curator of human history for Warwickshire Museum Service, was able to identify the bowl as an almost complete Roman mortarium, dating to around the 2nd or 3rd century AD.

A mortarium is a grinding bowl, used like a modern pestle and mortar, it would grind herbs, spices and other ingredients to make the strong-tasting sauces.

On realising the significance of the item, Mr Taylor donated the mortarium to the Warwickshire Museum collections.

Recently, the artefact went on display at the heritage centre where it can be viewed by visitors.

Mr Taylor said: "It is part of Alcester's history so I am delighted it has found a home.

"It's amazing, I could have thrown it away- I had no idea it was so old,” he added.

Laurence Thatcher, chairman of the Alcester Heritage Trust, which runs the Roman Alcester Heritage Centre, said: "We are absolutely delighted that Mr Taylor donated this rare Roman artefact.

"It is a welcome addition to our collection at the museum. We hope to see more visitors enjoying the museum in future as we are a non-profit organisation that relies on visitors to keep us going."

Councillor Mike Gittus, Warwickshire County Councillor who represents Alcester Ward, said: "This is a fantastic addition to the collection at the Roman Alcester Heritage Museum in our vibrant town. The museum already holds some fascinating artefacts recovered in the local area that shows the richness of history that surrounds Alcester."

Councillor Philip Johnson, chair of the communities overview and scrutiny committee, added: "This is great news. Globe House, Alcester, is a fantastic location that acts as a hub for the town. Earlier this year it re-opened following refurbishment and now includes a community Library in addition to its fantastic Museum."

This particular mortarium could have been made in Mancetter, near Atherstone, where there was an important mortaria production site at the time.

For more information on the Roman Alcester Heritage Museum at Globe House visit