Diameter: 8.800 cm
Room 41: Europe AD 300-1100
Glass cone beaker
Anglo-Saxon, 5th-6th century
From Grave 32A, Kempston, Bedfordshire, England
Cone beakers are among the earliest and most widespread examples of the production of Frankish glass workshops, probably centred in modern-day France, Belgium and Germany. It is possible that a glass centre in Kent, England also produced such vessels.
This pale greenish beaker has an outsplayed, fire rounded rim and a conical body tapering to the flattened base. Their tall shape and lack of a firm base implies that their contents must have been drained before the beaker was placed rim down on a table. On the upper body is a fine horizontal trail that spirals twenty-two times to form a ribbed grip. Below, the body is ornamented with a twelve-fold vertical looped trail.
Although the grave groups in the Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Kempston are confused, extant records state that the beaker was found in a grave with a gold and garnet pendant/droplet and a copper-alloy toilet set. These finds suggest that the burial was made in the seventh century and, if the association is correct, this fine beaker would have been placed in the grave of a high status woman as an heirloom.
D.B. Harden and others, The British Museum: masterpiec (London, 1968)
H. Tait (ed.), Five thousand years of glass (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)