- Museum number
- Object: Halton Moor Cup
Silver-gilt cup (or bowl); ornamented. The ornament consists of chased designs, with medallions, each containing an animal figure, separated by conventional foliate patterns. There are four medallions bordered by bands enclosing a wavy pattern: two contain the figure of a lion passant to right with open mouth and upraised forked tail, intersecting a conventional plant the foliage of which appears above and below the animal, at its breast and under the tail: alternating with these are the other two medallions each showing the figure of an ox with humped back and forked tail bending towards a piece of conventional foliage on the undulating ground. The four interspaces are occupied each by a formal plant with radiating branches from which issue four dog-like heads near the extremities, biting foliage: the design of each plant is identical with that opposite to it, but differs slightly from those nearest to it. Round the lip and the bottom are bands of conventional leaf-scrolls, on which, as on the plants in the middle zone, are transverse collars. The background and interior are gilt, traces of gilding being also found on the ornament; on one side part of the rim and the upper part of the body are wanting; the bowl is somewhat battered and worn near the bottom. There is no foot or cover.
- Production date
Height: 9.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from Read and Tonnochy 1928, 'Catalogue of Silver Plate' (Franks Bequest):
The bowl was found in 1815 on Halton Moor, five miles from Lancaster, containing a torc of plaited silver wire, 860 silver pennies, of which twenty-one appear to be Danish, the remainder being of Canute, and six pieces of stamped gold. It was described by Taylor Combe and illustrated in ‘Archaeologia’, XVIII, p. 199.
This bowl has points of resemblance to the group described above [see AF 3041]. It is lighter in weight and finer in workmanship than AF 3041, and the ornament suggests a later date. For the shape and ornament it should be compared with a small gold vase, originally one-handled, which forms part of the treasure found at Nagy-Szent-Miklos, in Rumania, in 1799, and now preserved in the Kunsthistorisches Museum at Vienna: the treasure has been attributed by some to the last quarter of the ninth century, others favouring a somewhat earlier date. On the body of the vase is repoussé ornament of winged animals in medallions with conventional foliage in the field, alternating with foliate designs; on the rim is a frieze with palmettes and interlaced stems (Riegl, ‘Die Spätrömische Kuntsindustrie’, II, p. 93 and pl. xlv).
The Oriental animal-motives which figured largely in Merovingian art did not cease with the Carolingian renaissance. They are conspicuous in the manuscripts known as the Ada Group (Brøndsted, ‘Early English Ornament’, London and Copenhagen, 1924, p. 319). Illuminations in the Bible (School of Tours) given to Charles the Bald by Count Vivian as secular Abbot (845-50), in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (lat. 1), show points of similarity to our bowl, among which may be mentioned the oxen at the base of the columns (see A. Boinet, ‘La Miniature Carolingienne’, Paris, 1913, pl. lv); the same manuscript shows foliate capitals on the columns, resembling the design separating the medallions on the bowl. Leaves of the same shape, enclosing birds pecking at the foliage and with the transverse collars already noticed are seen on a tenth-century ivory comb in the style of the Metz school, preserved in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Brussels (Goldschmidt, ‘Elfenbeinskulpturen’, Berlin, 1914, I, no. 94 a, b, and pl. xl). An ivory book-cover in the Musée de Cluny, Paris, North French, of the late ninth or early tenth century (Goldschmidt, I, no. 156) shows the same type of foliage; small panels in the margin contain figures of lions closely related to those on the bowl. The back of the seal of Aelfric (see detail to AF 3041), who commanded Aethelred's fleet in 992, and died in 1016, is engraved with a foliate design of the type which we have been considering (British Museum, ‘Catalogue of Seals’, no. 4; ‘Archaeologia’, XXIV, p. 359).
The provenance of the bowl, even the decision between an eastern or western origin, is a matter of difficulty. While Oriental affinities are suggested by the animals in medallions, the closest parallels are, as already noted, with Carolingian art.
An English origin is assumed by Jackson (‘English Plate’, I, p. 65), who compares the ornament with that on manuscripts of the Winchester School, tenth and eleventh centuries; this attribution is also urged by W. W. Watts (‘Old English Silver’, p. 15. London, 1924), who places the bowl as late as the opening years of the eleventh century.
- On display (G41/dc25/sB)
- Exhibition history
2017-2018 8 Apr-6 Feb, York, Jorvik Viking Centre, Jorvik Artefact Gallery LT Loan
1900 12 May-2 Sep, Liverpool, National Museums & Galleries of Merseyside, A Silver Saga
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Found in 1815.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number