Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Transverse strainer-spoon, one of a matching pair (1994,0408.62-63) with engraved and gilded decoration and a pattern of pierced perforations. The narrower end of the oval bowl faces left, and the zoomorphic handle, in the form of a dolphin, is attached to the middle of its lower long side. The dolphin handle has a complete coil in the centre of the body, a small crest on the head, and a triple-lobed tail in a vertical plane. The eyes are set with small dark blue glass beads, and there is gilding on the tail, the central coil and the head. The bowl decoration consists of a male portrait in the centre, flanked by two dolphins. Around the bowl is a gilded border with a row of beading. The figure depicts a deity, possibly Oceanus, with a straight, thin beard and a garment with a decorated, embroidered neckline. His head is covered with a regular imbricated pattern. The dolphins that approach him from each side have a coil in the middle of their bodies like the handle dolphins. The pierced pattern forms spirals around and between the figure and the dolphins.


  • Culture/period

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 128 millimetres (max.dimension; bowl width plus handle length)
    • Length: 85 millimetres (bowl)
    • Length: 73 millimetres (handle)
    • Weight: 47.7 grammes
  • Curator's comments

    Transverse strainer-spoons from the Hoxne hoard

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

    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.

    These two spoons are of unknown use, but they clearly match the large set of gilded spoons from the hoard. They may have been used for lifting solid pieces of food out of a liquid, such as whole fruit served in a bowl of water.

    The gilded decoration shows Oceanus or a similar marine deity with dolphins: the theme is a Bacchic one, matching the decoration of the other spoons in the set.


  • Bibliography

    • Bland & Johns 1993 bibliographic details
    • Johns 2010 63 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G49/dc23

  • Exhibition history

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

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • T304 (Treasure number)
Silver gilded transverse strainer spoon, bowl inscribed with design of Oceanus with dolphins. Handle cast in form of dolphin, eyes inlaid with hardstone.

Group of Objects

Silver gilded transverse strainer spoon, bowl inscribed with design of Oceanus with dolphins. Handle cast in form of dolphin, eyes inlaid with hardstone.

Image description



If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: BCB90862

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 


Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help