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Kettering is home to the World's oldest hockey player.

By Barry Coe

No, it's not Bill!! Kettering Museum has a Roman Artefact called "The Kettering Hockey Player" on loan from the British Museum.

On loan from the British Museum and returned to its original home The Kettering Hockey Player is currently being displayed in Kettering Museum. Sadly we won't be able to have him down at the Clubhouse as he's irreplaceable and someone would probably drop him.

Karen Adhemar, Museum Officer at Kettering Museum has kindly given us all the information they have about the piece. There is no truth to the rumours that this is modelled on Tony, Vince or any current Kettering members.

The Kettering Hockey player
Kettering, Northamptonshire
43AD-410 AD

The Kettering Hockey Player is an intriguing figure depicted on a mould, which was used to apply decoration to pottery. It is the only known example from Roman Britain and forms part of the collection at the British Museum.

Mr Robert Loveday, the building inspector to the borough of Kettering, gave the mould to the British Museum. It was found in 1938, during building excavations on the estate now known as Walnut Crescent. Discovered among a thick deposit of burnt material and pottery sherds it has been suggested that it was perhaps part of the waste from a pottery kiln.

What was it used for?
Made of clay, the mould is shaped to fit the curve of a pot and would have been used to apply a design to a larger piece of pottery. This method known as applied relief was popular in the making of Samian ware.

The figure in the mould appears to be playing some form of a game, involving a curved stick much like a modern-day hockey stick or golf club. Three balls are illustrated: one held in the player’s left hand, another in the crook of their left arm and the third one flying through the air.

Ball-playing was popular among the Romans and they enjoyed a variety of games including paganica, a form of golf, played with a bent stick and a feather stuffed leather ball. There was also field hockey, which actually predates the Romans and was played by the Egyptians as far back as 2500 BC.

Local Treasure
In spite of this there are no images from Rome which depict hockey and references to it are scarce. The Kettering hockey player is not made from precious materials and it isn’t an example of the finest craftsmanship. It isn’t treasure in the traditional sense but it is unique for the small but important role it plays in telling the story of our past.

Attached is a document from the Museum advertising their borrowed artefacts. If you have a free half an hour pop in to the museum and say your from the hockey club.

Updated 20:25 - 30 Jan 2019 by Barry Coe

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