A Dice Tower from Richborough

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.


The dice tower, or pyrgus, an ancient device for rolling dice, was an everyday object in the Roman world, but up to now only two towers, from Germany and Egypt, have been found. In re-examining a group of bone box-casings from Richborough Roman Fort, however, the author has found that some of these casings must have belonged to such a tower. This article shows how this dice tower may have been constructed. The author also summarises the literary and artistic evidence for dice towers, and shows how the rosette decoration on this tower links it to the Roman game of Duodecim Scripta.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

During the third century A.D., there was a series of barbarian invasions in Gaul. The last, in 276, was the most serious, for some fifty or sixty towns had fallen into enemy hands and had to be recaptured. Most Gallic towns had proved an easy prey to the Germanic invaders, for they were built in a spacious style, and for the most part without defensive walls. Dijon is said to have received its walls in the time of Aurelian, but positive evidence for the construction-date of the walls of the Gallic towns is in most cases not forthcoming, although it seems that these defences were constructed in the late third century and early fourth, probably as a result of the Germanic invasions. The style of building was what became the well-known style of the third century and after—thick walls, with exterior towers or bastions, tile bonding courses, and much re-use of earlier material.
A Roman game-board from Holt, Denbighshire
  • Austin
Das frühchristliche Beinkästchen von Heilbronn
  • Goessler
Objects of Animal Bone, Antler, Ivory and Teeth from Roman Britain, unpub
  • S J Greep
Ein fränkisches Holzkästchen aus Weilbach
  • Schoppa
Si per me misit, nil nisi vota feret. Ein römischer Spielturm aus Froitzheim
  • Horn
  • Bushe-Fox
  • Wheeler