Keepers’ Corner – An intriguing roof tile

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Many people think that the origins of Santa Claus, as we know him now, date back into Victorian times, but those who know the truth, know he is Saint Nicholas of Myra, the patron saint of children, who lived in Turkey in the 3rd century AD.

The image of Santa, as a jolly man in a red and white suit may be quite modern, but his method of magical transport is clearly a much, much older idea, and we have some proof….


This is a piece of roof tile, found at Bierton, just outside Aylesbury, dating to late Roman times (the exact time St. Nicholas of Myra was alive) – and on it is the hoof print of a deer! How else could a deer’s footprint get onto the roof of a Roman building, other than from a magical sleigh, pulled by deer? Given that the footprint is quite small, it suggests a young deer, so this may even have been left by Rudolf himself!

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