The Ancient Technology Centre, Damerham Road, Cranborne, BH21 5RP. Phone: 01725 517618 Email: atc@dorsetcc.gov.uk Get Involved Research Opening Times Ancient Technology Centre The
The Roman Water Machine

This machine is a replica based on evidence of a bucket chain mechanism found in London and dated to the early 2nd century A.D.

The machine is one possible interpretation of a mechanism thatmay have driven the excavated bucket chain. The original bucket chain was discovered at the bottom of a deep well (Eastern well) during excavations at 20-30 Gresham Street in London. It is believed that the water from the well supplied the Roman bath house at Cheapside, around 400 metres away.

Built by The Museum of London and McCurdy & C0 in 2002, the water machine became the focus for a “Time Team Special” which is still being repeated. The machine was donated to the ATC by The Museum of London in 2010.

We have modified the main drive wheel with fruit-wood “shoes” that bear the weight of the chains. We have installed a counter on the wndlass gear to record the volume of water moved.

A description of a water lifting machine exists, written by Vitruvios in the 1st century A.D.

“BUT IF A SUPPLY WAS REQUIRED AT STILL GREATER HEIGHTS, A DOUBLE IRON CHAIN WILL BE SET UP… WITH BUCKETS SUSPENDED FROM IT.  THUS THE TURNING OF THE WHEEL…WILL CARRY THE BUCKETS TO THE TOP, AND AS THEY ARE BORNE OVER THE WHEEL, THEY WILL NECESSARILY TURN OVER AND POUR INTO A RESERVOIR”.