Height: 7.200 cm
Bequeathed by Sir A.W. Franks
M&ME AF 3175
Prehistory and Europe
Anglo-Saxon, first half 10th century
Possibly from London, England
One of the few surviving Anglo-Saxon church vessels
This tiny jug of gilt bronze was once topped by a hinged lid. The spout was cast as a gaping animal head which was given an incised mane and spiral decorations. The handle behind is a lively snake twisted into a loop, and it springs from the mouth of another animal at the rim. Round the body are panels with pairs of birds pecking at foliage, linked by areas of plain gilding and raised animal masks. The mane on the spout suggests that all the beasts represent lions.
Because lions and feeding birds are motifs with Christian significance this special jug may have been used to hold oil blessed for the sacraments. If so, this is a unique survival of a cruet jug from what must have been a vast amount of fine metalwork made for use in Anglo-Saxon churches. Written accounts and the Trewhiddle hoard hint at the richness of this church equipment. The fine ornament is in Winchester style, named after the contemporary royal capital.
D.M. Wilson, Anglo-Saxon art (London, Thames and Hudson, 1984)
J. Backhouse, D.H. Turner and L. Webster (eds.), The golden age of Anglo-Saxon, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)