This Roman lock plate is made from a sheet of bronze, and just like lock plates from the recent past it protected the lock housing and mechanism, and guided the key into the mechanism. There is an oblong slot just above the keyhole, the function of which is unknown.
It was found during the 1881 excavations of the north aisled hall of Brading Roman Villa, Isle of Wight. This building was erected in about 200 AD. In nearby rooms several other keys and fragments of lock mechanisms were found, suggesting that valuables were probably kept in this area protected by secure locked doors and containers.
Some of the earliest locks were invented in ancient Egypt. Very early types were made in wood and have not survived, and even when iron came into use in the ancient world, lock mechanisms are rarely preserved.
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