Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Silver implement, probably a combined toothpick and ear cleaner, modelled in the shape of an ibis: one of a pair with 1994,0408.146. The bird is long-legged and upright, with a long, curved beak which served as the toothopick, and is complete except only for the feet. The legs have slight swellings to indicate joints. They are attached to a baluster moulding, beneath which is a short stem of chamfered square section ending in an angled flat disc, the ear-pick (or other implement). There are slight traces of gilding on the head and neck of the bird, and the eye is a niello-inlaid circle with a centre dot. The back and wings bear an engraved imbricated feather pattern, originally emphasized with niello, though no trace of inlay now survives. A line of gilding runs down the centre back and around the wing borders. There is also gilding on the moulding at the feet.


  • Culture/period

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 144 millimetres
    • Weight: 24.9 grammes
  • Curator's comments

    Toilet implements 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. They include these personal cosmetic or toilet utensils made of silver.

    The four implements with comma-shaped terminals are toothpicks of a known type. At the other end, they probably all had tiny flat scoops which could have been used for cleaning the ears, or possibly for removing cosmetics from small vessels. The pair of objects in the form of birds (ibises), appear to be much more elaborate versions of the same implement, the birds' beaks forming the toothpick. They are decorated with niello and gilding. The other three objects, two of them a matching pair, also have the scoop end, but they incorporate a socket. It is possible that these contained brushes, and if so, the other end was probably intended for handling cosmetic creams or powders.


  • Bibliography

    • Bland & Johns 1993 bibliographic details
    • Johns 2010 145 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G49/dc23

  • Exhibition history

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

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • T304 (Treasure number)
Two Silver toothpicks, in form of ibis. The eye is nielloed, and there is gilding over part of the head and body.

Group of Objects

Two Silver toothpicks, in form of ibis. The eye is nielloed, and there is gilding over part of the head and body.

Image description



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Object reference number: BCB90944

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