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hanging bowl

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1939,1010.111

  • Description

    Copper alloy hanging bowl of 'Celtic' type, now restored on frame. Enamelled interior and external central escutcheons with zoomorphic swastika design. A piece of leather strap survives, attached to a hook on one escutcheon. Three circular enamelled escutcheons on the exterior, filled with red and blue enamel, and stamped with repoussé ornament. Narrow open-work copper alloy base-ring, partly filled with punched foil insertions. Above one of the exterior escutcheons is a suspension loop.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • late 6thC - early 7thC (?)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 17.5 centimetres (rim)
    • Depth: 7.8 centimetres
    • Height: 4.5 centimetres (hook-escutcheon)
    • Diameter: 3.15 centimetres (hook-escutcheon)
    • Diameter: 5.2 centimetres (basal escutcheon)
    • Diameter: 1.7 centimetres (suspension ring)
    • Thickness: 0.2 centimetres (suspension ring)
  • Curator's comments

    Bruce Mitford 2005
    Discovery and history: Found in the Sutton Hoo ship-burial excavated by C. W. Phillips, FSA, in 1939; all finds from the ship-burial were presented to the British Museum by Mrs E. M. Pretty, JP.

    Description: An A type bowl of medium size having remarkable features and from a provenance, workshop, or hand totally different from the Sutton Hoo (1) bowl (1939,1010.110). The basal kick or countersinking is well developed, the rim section similar to that of bowl (1). The hook-escutcheons are relatively small and light, with light suspension rings of circular cross-section. The escutcheons are riveted to the bowl. The circular hook-escutcheons were cast with a central hole of small diameter (7.5 mm). The transition from hook to plate is effected with a broad-spreading semi-circle, occupying about one third of the diameter of the escutcheon. All this was concealed by three identical stamped foil impressions cut out of a larger pattern or area of foil. The design is not readily interpreted but the cutting-out has been done with care to give three identical results, and the foils are carefully positioned and identically aligned. One hook, of an escutcheon whose foil overlay is missing, carries remains of a leather strap. The heads of the thin hooks show moulded and incised decoration and are of unique form somewhat resembling, when seen from above, Germanic bees (cf. e.g. in Childric's treasure).
    The two basal escutcheons are identical and show a powerful design of a zoomorphic swastika reserved against the enamel ground. There is a central rivet. The escutcheon frames both of the hook and of the basal escutcheons are thin vertical 'walls' with nicked or tooled tops.
    The base carries on its outer surface, where the bowl would rest, a circular reinforcement or applied (riveted) ring containing openings filled with foil cut-outs in Germanic style (interlace or guilloche themes, and also further cuts from the same stamped foil sheetings that were used for the hook-escutcheons). The added basal ring has dot-and-circle ornament confidently applied. A further patch, containing a stamped foil interlace filling, runs vertically up the side of the bowl from the base ring. For further details see Bruce-Mitford 1983, pt. 1,244-56.

    Discussion: This is a very remarkable bowl. There is no indication that the existing escutcheons were not the original ones. The mixture of Celtic champlevé enamel with Germanic stamped foil techniques is unique. The openwork ring also looks Germanic (cf. dot-and-circle). It is tempting to regard this as a Germanic bowl made up from original work (hook-escutcheons) but incorporating two available basal escutcheons from another bowl. The fact that hook and basal escutcheons are so different in technique, size, scale, and ornamental effect, suggest that they belonged at some time to different bowls. Possibly a Germanic and a Celtic craftsman were working in the same workshop. A similar theory to explain the odd mixture of styles and features is offered in Bruce-Mitford 1983, pt. I, 288. The provenance of this bowl would seem quite different from that of either of the other two Sutton Hoo bowls (1939,1010.110 and 1939,1010.112). The central hole in each hook-escutcheon, concealed beneath the foil covering, seems to indicate that the escutcheons were designed from the outset to be riveted, and not to contain solder.

    Bibliography. Phillips, C.W., 1940, The excavation of the Sutton Hoo ship-burial, ‘Antiquaries Journal’ 20, 169-73; Bruce-Mitford, R.L.S., 1972, ‘The Sutton Hoo Ship-Burial: A Handbook’, London, pl. 24a; Bruce-Mitford, R.L.S., 1975, ‘The Sutton Hoo Ship-Burial’, vol. i, ‘Excavations, Background, the Ship Dating, and Inventory’, London, 209, 213, fig. 141, 146; Brown, P.D.C., 1981, Swastika patterns, in V.I. Evison (ed.), ‘Anglo-Saxons and Jutes: Essays Presented to J.N.L. Myres’, Oxford, 227-40, 228; Bruce-Mitford, R.L.S., 1983, ‘The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial’, vol. iii (2pts), ‘Late Roman and Byzantine Silver, Hanging-Bowls, Drinking Vessels, Cauldrons, and other Containers, Textiles, the Lyre, Pottery Bottle, and Other Items’, ed. A.C. Evans, London, 244-56, 282, 307-12; Evans, A.C., 1986, ‘The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial’, London, 75, fig. 61; Brenan, J., 1991, ‘Hanging Bowls and their Contexts: An Archaeological Survey of their Socio-Economic Significance from the Fifth to Seventh centuries AD’, BAR British Series 220, Oxford, cat. no. 55, 270-1.

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  • Bibliography

    • Bruce-Mitford 2005 89 bibliographic details
    • Bruce-Mitford 1983 Figs. 185-199 bibliographic details
  • Location

    G2/fc158

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    2005 14 Mar-30 Oct, Woodbridge, The National Trust-Sutton Hoo Exhibition Centre, Hanging Bowls
    1980 10 Mar-30 Sep, Sweden, Stockholm, Statens Historika Museum, The Vikings are Here

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1939

  • Acquisition notes

    Excavated 1939

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1939,1010.111

Bronze hanging bowl of "celtic" type, now restored on frame.  Enamelled interior and external central escutcheons with zoomorphic swastika design.  Three circular enamelled escutcheons on the exterior, filled with red and blue enamel, and stamped with repousse ornament.  Narrow open-work bronze base-ring, partly filled with stamped foil insertions.  Above one of the exterior escutcheons is a suspension loop.

Bronze hanging bowl of "celtic" type, now restored on frame. Enamelled interior and external central escutcheons with zoomorphic swastika design. Three circular enamelled escutcheons on the exterior, filled with red and blue enamel, and stamped with repousse ornament. Narrow open-work bronze base-ring, partly filled with stamped foil insertions. Above one of the exterior escutcheons is a suspension loop.

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Object reference number: MCS7561

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