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The Corbridge Lanx

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1993,0401.1

  • Title (object)

    • The Corbridge Lanx
  • Description

    Decorated silver platter or lanx. The scene shows, left to right: the goddess Artemis, holding a bow; the helmeted goddess Athena, her hand raised to indicate conversation; a standing female figure; a seated female figure; the god Apollo at the entrance to a shrine, holding a bow, his lyre at his feet. In the foreground stands an altar flanked by Artemis's hound and fallen stag and a griffin, a mythical beast associated with Apollo.

    More 

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 4thC
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 503 millimetres
    • Width: 380 millimetres
    • Weight: 4600 grammes
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        annotation
      • Inscription Language

        Latin
      • Inscription Transliteration

        p(ondo) (ibrae?) XIIII (unciae?) III (scripula) II
      • Inscription Translation

        'Weight fourteen (pounds) three ounces and two scruples'
      • Inscription Comment

        Graffito in punched dots on the base near the corner of the footstand.
  • Curator's comments

    The Corbridge Lanx

    Roman Britain, 4th century AD
    From Corbridge, Northumberland

    A superlative late-Roman 'picture plate' designed for display

    This magnificent silver platter was found by nine-year old Isabel Cutter in the bank of the River Tyne at Corbridge, near Hadrian's Wall, in February 1735. It is probable that gradual erosion of the river bank was washing out part of a fourth-century silver hoard, as other vessels were found there on various occasions between 1731 and 1760. Corbridge (Coriosopitum) was a Roman garrison town.

    The scene shows the god Apollo at the entrance to a shrine, holding a bow, his lyre at his feet. His twin sister Artemis (Diana), the hunter goddess, enters from the left, and the helmeted goddess with her hand raised to indicate conversation is Athena (Minerva). The two female figures in the centre are less obvious. The entire scene is clearly a shrine of Apollo. The Greek island of Delos was the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, and Athena was also worshipped there. If the Delian shrine is depicted then the older woman sitting spinning may be Leto, the mother of the twins, and the standing woman her sister Ortygia, who was transformed into the island of Delos. In the foreground stands an altar flanked by Artemis's hound and fallen stag and a griffin, a mythical beast associated with Apollo.

    The decoration of the platter and its style indicate a fourth-century AD date. Its place of manufacture is unknown but may have been a major city in the Mediterranean, North Africa or Asia Minor. Ephesos has been suggested because of its links with the cults of Artemis, Apollo and Leto. Though no other piece has survived, some were sketched or described when they were originally found. At least one of the lost objects bore Christian symbols. We can compare the treasure with the Mildenhall treasure where high-quality pagan decoration is combined with a few Christian references.

    The Latin term lanx (tray) was used for vessels of this shape by eighteenth-century scholars.

    It is probable that this was part of a fourth-century silver hoard, as other vessels were found at the same place on various occasions between 1731 and 1760. Corbridge (Coriosopitum) was a Roman garrison town. Though no other piece has survived, some were sketched or described when they were originally found. At least one of the lost objects bore Christian symbols. We can compare the treasure with the Mildenhall treasure where high-quality pagan decoration is combined with a few Christian references.
    Place of manufacture unknown, but may have been a major city in the Mediterranean, North Africa or Asia Minor.This magnificent silver platter was found by nine-year old Isabel Cutter in the bank of the River Tyne at Corbridge, near Hadrian's Wall, in February 1735. It is probable that gradual erosion of the river bank was washing out part of a fourth-century silver hoard, as other vessels were found there on various occasions between 1731 and 1760. Corbridge (Coriosopitum) was a Roman garrison town.

    The two female figures in the centre are less easily identified than the principles. The entire scene is clearly a shrine of Apollo. The Greek island of Delos was the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, and Athena was also worshipped there. If the Delian shrine is depicted then the older woman sitting spinning may be Leto, the mother of the twins, and the standing woman her sister Ortygia, who was transformed into the island of Delos. In the foreground stands an altar flanked by Artemis's hound and fallen stag and a griffin, a mythical beast associated with Apollo.

    The decoration of the platter and its style indicate a fourth-century AD date. Its place of manufacture is unknown but may have been a major city in the Mediterranean, North Africa or Asia Minor. Ephesos has been suggested because of its links with the cults of Artemis, Apollo and Leto. Though no other piece has survived, some were sketched or described when they were originally found. At least one of the lost objects bore Christian symbols. We can compare the treasure with the Mildenhall treasure where high-quality pagan decoration is combined with a few Christian references.

    The Latin term lanx (tray) was used for vessels of this shape by eighteenth-century scholars.

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Buckton 1994 15 bibliographic details
    • R I B II.2, 2414.38, pp.42 bibliographic details
    • Potter 1997 p.81, fig.76 bibliographic details
  • Location

    G49/dc17

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    2012-2013 Nov-Mar, Bonn, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2012 Mar-Jul, Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Treasures of the World’s Cultures
    2007 Mar-June, Beijing, Palace Museum, Britain meets the World
    2000-2001 Dec-Apr, Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizione, Aurea Roma
    1997 6-26 Jan, London, Christies, Treasures for Everyone: Saved by the National Art Collections Fund
    1996 1 Jun-26 Aug, Newcastle, Laing Art Gallery, The Golden Age of Northumbria
    1993 2 Aug-10 Sep, Corbridge Roman Town, The Corbridge Lanx

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1993

  • Acquisition notes

    On loan to the British Museum July 1940 to 16 Sep 1949, and again since 1978.

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1993,0401.1


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Object reference number: BCB55684

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