Reading Museum's Roman statue inspires The Eagle film

The Silchester Eagle A bronze eagle at Reading Museum is to be immortalised in film

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A Roman eagle statue residing at the Museum of Reading is to be immortalised in a film starring Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland.

The film The Eagle will be released in March, and will tell the story of the disappearance of a Roman legion from Scotland.

It will be based on by The Eagle of the Ninth, the children's book by Rosemary Sutcliff.

Sutcliff was inspired by a bronze eagle found in Silchester, Hampshire.

The eagle was discovered during a 19th Century excavation of the Roman town of Calleva, near Silchester, and was named the Silchester Eagle.

The town of Calleva was not built on after it was abandoned so excavations produced the most complete plan of any Roman town in Britain.

Greatest prize

It is now looked after by English Heritage.

The eagle was found on 9 October 1866 by the Reverend JG Joyce, who excavated the site from 1864 to 1878.

He thought that his "great prize" was an eagle torn from a military standard and hidden for safe-keeping by its bearer.

He speculated that it was eventually buried by the debris from a fire that destroyed the basilica.

However, Reading Museum now believes the eagle was part of an official civilian statue and ended its life as a piece of scrap waiting to be melted down.

According to the museum, the craftsmanship of the original figure was outstanding, but it ended up being damaged, repaired and then damaged again in antiquity, and the repairs were rougher.

Its wings are now missing but must have been outstretched and raised.

The curvature of its feet indicates that it probably grasped a globe in its talons.

The site of the town where the statue was discovered was owned by the Duke of Wellington.

The eagle remained in the possession of successive Dukes until 1980 when it was purchased by Reading Museum with support from Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and the Art Fund.

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