The Rose Ash Bowl

Rose Ash, Devon, England
Iron Age, about 100 BC - AD 100

Iron Age bowl discovered on a farm in Devon

This bowl was found high on the north side of Crooked Moor to the south of Exmoor. Mr B. Ayre found it when he was digging a drainage channel in the corner of a marshy field on his farm with a mechanical digger. He saw it on the top of a heap of soil dropped from the digger's bucket and it 'shone as though it was gold'. In fact the bowl is not made of gold, but of bronze. Unfortunately, it was crumbled and damaged by the digger, but was restored by conservators at the British Museum.

The bowl was made by hand from a single piece of bronze and the metal is only 0.1 to 0.2 mm thick. It is so delicate that it had been broken and cracked when it was used in the Iron Age and clumsily repaired using solder The bowl only has one handle and this was made in the shape of an animal's head, perhaps a cow or ox. It is unclear what the bowl was used for. The shape of its lip would make it very difficult to drink from or to pour from without spilling. It could have been used to eat food from, or for washing hands, or used at a religious ceremony. Some time after it had been made and repaired it was deliberately placed in what was then a small spring or a marsh on the hill. It was probably placed there as a religious offering.

It is not known exactly when it was made or left at the spring but it was probably between 100 BC and AD 100. A very similar Iron Age bowl has been found at Youlton near Warbstow in North Cornwall and is now in the Truro Museum.

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More information


A. Fox, 'An Iron Age bowl from Rose Ash, North Devon', Antiquaries Journal 41 (1961), pp. 186-198

S. James and V. Rigby, Britain and the Celtic Iron Ag (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)

I.M. Stead, Celtic art in Britain before t (London, The British Museum Press, 1987, revised edition 1997)


Height: 70.000 mm
Width: 197.000 mm (rim)
Diameter: 206.000 mm (max.)

Museum number

P&E PRB 1961 10-7 1



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