Gilded spoons from the Thetford treasure

Roman Britain, 4th century AD
Thetford, Norfolk

These gilded spoons formed part of a remarkable hoard of late-Roman gold jewellery and silver tableware found near Thetford, Norfolk, in 1979.

The two spoons, one a large cignus, the other a long-handled cochlear are clearly from a matching set. Both have Bacchic decoration, the first a horn-blowing triton holding a steering-oar and accompanied by a dolphin, the latter a tigress and a tree.

The inscriptions are to the 'god Faunus Narus', referring to the obscure Italian god Faunus. The Celtic element narus, or narius (perhaps meaning 'powerful' or 'mighty') emphasizes that this was a local cult. There are Bacchic elements in the decoration of both spoons and jewellery, and Faunus may at this date have formed part of the wider Bacchic cult. It appears that the treasure was owned and used by committed pagans and may have been hidden as a result of anti-pagan legislation in the final decade of the fourth century AD.

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More information

Bibliography

C.M. Johns and T. Potter, The Thetford Treasure: Roman j (London, The British Museum Press, 1983)

Dimensions

Length: 10.200 cm (cignus)
Length: 10.200 cm (cignus)

Museum number

P&EE 1981 2-1 50, 66

BCB87852;BCB87868

Treasure Trove

Location

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