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chalice

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1880,0410.1-3

  • Description

    Silver chalice (reconstructed), formed of separate foot, stem and cup, originally riveted together; the bowl is gilded internally. Just below the gilded rim are a number of rivet holes perhaps indicating the former presence of an applied rim or decorated band. Immediately below them is a band of gilding within which are further rivets; above it are traces of solder, and below are traces of incised interlace at points where the original surface of the (much corroded) metal survives. A now lost mount from the hoard may have served as a collar to the stem. It has an oval knop and a flanged domed foot.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 868 (deposited circa)
    • 9thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 12.6 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Webster & Backhouse 1991
    Part of a hoard; found with 1880,0410.4-19.

    Date of deposite previously given as c. 868.

    The hoard was found in 1774 in a stream-bed in an old tin-mine working, along with a number of other objects now lost, and a considerable quantity of coins which date the deposition of the hoard to c.868 (Blackburn, M.A.S. and Pagan, H.E. 1986, A Revised Checklist of coin hoards from the British Isles c. 500-1100, in M.A.S. Blackburn (ed.) ‘Anglo-Saxon Monetary History’, 294; Brooks, N. and Graham-Campbell, J.A. 1986, Reflections on the Viking Age Silver Hoard from Croydon, Surrey, in M.A.S. Blackburn (ed.) ‘Anglo-Saxon Monetary History’, 109). The composition of the coin assemblage and hence the dating is somewhat problematic; but this revised date has won general acceptance. The accompanying metalwork presents an intriguing mixture of ecclesiastical and secular material, and in addition to its obvious and predominant Anglo-Saxon components includes one brooch of Celtic origin. Much of the hoard is lavishly decorated in the distinctive repertoire of lively zoomorphic, plant, interlace and geometric motifs set in small fields to which it has given its name, the Trewhiddle style, and for which it constitutes the classic assemblage (Brøndsted, J. 1924, ‘Early English Ornament’, London/ Copenhagen, passim, and see above pp. 220-1).
    Apart from the decoration itself, the hoard is notable for a number of exceptional items. The chalice (reg. no. 1880,0410.1-30 is the only Anglo-Saxon silver chalice from Britain: recent restoration has revealed its gilded interior and vestiges of a band of incised interlace below the rim. The recent discovery of a small silver chalice on a crannog at Lough Kinale, Co. Longford, Ireland, provides a very close parallel to the Trewhiddle piece in all but size: particularly interesting in this context is the Lough Kinale chalice's riveted rim-mount, which offers a simple analogy for the lost fitting from the rim of the Trewhiddle chalice (Ryan, M. 1990, The Formal Relationships of Insular Early Medieval Eucharistic Chalices, ‘Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy’ XC(C), no. 10, fig. 1, 292). The Lough Kinale chalice differs significantly from other surviving Irish chalices and might conceivably be of Anglo-Saxon workmanship.
    With the scourge (reg. no. 1880,0410.4), which is a unique survival in an early medieval context, the chalice represents an ecclesiastical element in the hoard. However, the other objects all appear to be secular in nature, though there remains some doubt as to the precise nature of some of them, such as the capping (reg. no. 1880,0410.8 here identified as from a knife handle) and the curved mounts (1880,0410.9-11). The latter have been identified by Smith (1904) and Wilson as horn-mounts, but this explanation fails to account adequately for significant differences from all other Anglo-Saxon horn- or cup-mounts; for instance the lack of provision for a rim binding, and the fact that the mounts could only encompass half a rim. Their construction suggests rather that they were meant to be seen primarily from one side, as if attached to curved strap-work of some kind - on a bridle or spur attachments, for example. The plain riveted strips which extend beyond the decorated area certainly have the look of parts concealed in use, and it is worth remark here that the matching plain base silver strap slides and strap-ends from the hoard are of types thought to have been used with spurs.
    As with the associated coins, in which several separate parcels have been discerned, it looks as if this hoard contains more than one discrete assemblage of precious metalwork.

    Select bibliography: Smith, R.A. 1904, Some Anglo-Saxon Silver Ornaments Found at Trewhiddle, Cornwall, in 1774, ‘Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London’ 20, 47-55; Wilson, D.M. and Blunt, C.E. 1961, The Trewhiddle Hoard, ‘Archaeologia’ 98, 75-122; Wilson, D.M. 1984, ‘Anglo-Saxon Art’, London, 94-6, figs. 104, 119.The Trewhiddle Chalice is very fragile and the holes in the sides of the cup are from an early (18th/19th Century) restoration.Wilson 1964
    Found in 1774 (with registration nos. 1880,0410.4 -19) by tin-workers in a stream-work, 17 feet below ground surface at Trewhiddle, St. Austell, Cornwall. It was hidden in a heap of loose stones in an old mine-working. The hoard, which included a number of objects which are now lost and a silver penannular brooch of Hiberno-Saxon origin which is omitted from this catalogue (1880,0410.6), was associated with a number of coins which date its deposition to c. 872-5. About 1806 the hoard passed into the hands of Canon Rogers of Penrose, whose son presented it to the British Museum in appreciation of the work for the national collections of the then Keeper of the Department of British and Medieval Antiquities and Ethnography, A. W. (later Sir Augustus) Franks.

    Before 875.

    See pp. 54, 55, figs. 6 and 7 and pl. XXXIV.

    Bibliography: Rashleigh, P. (1789): 'Account of Antiquities discovered in Cornwall, 1774', Archaeologia, ix, 187 and pl. viii, 1, 22 and 23; Rashleigh, P. (1794): 'Farther Account of Antiquities discovered in Cornwall, 1774', Archaeologia, xi, 83-4 and pl. vii; Davis Gilbert (1864), i, 49; 'The Archaeological Journal', xii (1864), 184; Rogers, J. J. (1867): 'Saxon Silver Ornaments and Coins found at Trewhiddle, near St. Austell: A.D. 1774', Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, ii 292; Rashleigh, J. (1868): 'An Account of Anglo-Saxon Coins and Gold and Silver Ornaments found at Trewhiddle, near St. Austell, Corn¬wall, A.D. 1774', Numismatic Chronicle, new series, viii, 138-9; 'Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London' ser. 2, viii (1880), 313; 'Victoria History of the Counties of England: Cornwall', i, 375 and fig. 1; Jackson, C. J. (1911): History of English Plate, London, i, 57 and fig. 75; [Dalton, O. M.] (1921): British Museum Guide to the Early Christian and Byzantine Antiqui¬ties, London, 68 and fig. 39; Watts, W. W. (1922): Catalogue of the Chalices and other Communion Vessels [in the Victoria and Albert Museum], London, 13 and pl. 3, a; 'British Museum: A Guide to Anglo-Saxon . . . Antiquities . . .', London, 1923, 99 and fig. 118; Walker, J. W. and M. I. (1927): The Church Plate of Berkshire, xiif; Braun, J. (1932): Das christliche Altargerät in seinem Sein und in seiner Entwicklung, München, 72; Hencken, H. (1932): The Archaeology of Cornwall and Scilly, London, 262 and pl. yii; Pfeilstücker, S. (1936): Spätantikes und Germanisches Kunstgut in der Frühangelsächsischen Kunst, Berlin, 190; Haseloff, G. (1951): Der Tassilokelch, München, 12; Talbot Rice, D. (1952): English Art, 871-1100, Oxford, 227 and fig. 14; Thompson, J. D. A. (1956): Inventory of British Coin Hoards, London, 137 and pl. vi, d; Oman, C. C. (1957): English Church Plate 597-1830, London, 39 f. and pl. 1; Wilson, D. M. (1958c): 'Some Archaeological Additions and Corrections to J. D. A. Thompson, Inventory of British Coin Hoards', Medieval Archaeology, ii, 170; Thompson, J. D. A. (1959): 'Some additions and corrections to J. D. A. Thompson, Inventory of British Coin Hoards: A Recension ', Medieval Archaeology, iii, 280-1; Wilson, D. M. (1960a): The Anglo-Saxons, London, 65, 215 and pl. 17.

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  • Bibliography

    • Webster & Backhouse 1991 246 (a) bibliographic details
    • Wilson 1964 90 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G41/dc3/sB

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:
    1999-2000 11 Dec-16 Sep, Truro, Royal Cornwall Museum, The History of Christianity in Cornwall
    1989 23 Jun-31 Aug, Durham Cathedral, Anglo Saxon Connections

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1880

  • Acquisition notes

    found 1774

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1880,0410.1-3


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