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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Partly gilded, decorated silver spoon (ligula or cignus). The six gilded cigni, 1994,0408.64-69, form part of the larger parcel-gilt set, 1994,0408.62-80. The bowl is oval and the short, S-shaped handle faces outwards and terminates in the head of a swan with a long, upward-curving beak. The engraved bowl decoration is the figure of a maritime monster with a hare-like head, long ears and short, thin forelegs ending in paws. It has an undulating fish body ending in a triple-lobed tail fin. There is a single complete coil in the body. Fine short lines are engraved in rows all over the body and tail, so that the whole animal has fine vertical stripes, and the mammal fore parts are divided from the piscine body by a plain curved double line. Four small fins are arranged on the fish outline. Above and below the animal are four conventional triple-leaved plants. In front of it, at the point of the bowl, is a single leaf, and the animal holds another triple-leaved plant in its mouth, by the tip of its long, waving stem. The swan terminal of the handle has oval eyes with a central dot. The marine monster, the plants and the head of the swan are all


  • Culture/period

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 115 millimetres
    • Length: 80 millimetres (bowl)
    • Width: 46 millimetres (bowl)
    • Weight: 40.1 grammes
  • Curator's comments

    Gilded silver spoons from the Hoxne hoard

    Roman Britain, buried in the 5th century AD
    Found at Hoxne, Suffolk (1992)

    A matching set of spoons

    The Hoxne (pronounced 'Hoxon') hoard is the richest find of treasure from Roman Britain. Alongside the approximately 15,000 coins were many other precious objects, buried for safety at a time when Britain was passing out of Roman control.

    The most obvious matching set of tableware consists of nineteen spoons with gilded decoration. All are in very good condition. Eleven are long-handled spoons (cochlearia), six are the larger cigni with bird-head handles, and two are large transverse perforated spoons with handles in the form of dolphins.

    The decoration is on a marine theme, with a sea-god, dolphins and mythological sea-creatures. This is a familiar aspect of Bacchic iconography, though many of the motifs also occur in Christian contexts.


  • Bibliography

    • Bland & Johns 1993 bibliographic details
    • Johns 2010 64 bibliographic details
  • Location


  • Exhibition history


    1994-1995 Oct-Jan, Ipswich Museum, The Hoxne Treasure

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • T304 (Treasure number)


If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

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Object reference number: BCB90863

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