The bronze statue once stood on top of a giant triumphal arch in the ancient Moroccan city of Volubilis, in the south-west corner of the Roman Empire, 1500 miles from Scotland. It depicted the Emperor Caracalla – the self-styled conqueror of the Caledonians – riding a six-horse chariot.
The statue, erected 1800 years ago, was destroyed centuries ago, and only a three-foot-long fragment of the emperor's cape remains in a museum in Rabat. Remarkably, the surviving bronze includes the image of a captive Caledonian warrior – wearing tartan trews.
Dr Fraser Hunter, of the National Museum of Scotland, yesterday identified the carving – inlaid with bronze and silver to give texture to the Scottish weave – as the "first-ever depiction of tartan".
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