HOARD

Unique ID: PAS-9708E3

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find validated and published by finds advisers

A hoard of twenty-six Roman gold and silver objects, comprising gold jewellery, a hollow silver figurine, two silver model arms, and nineteen votive 'leaf' plaques of thin sheet-metal (seven of gold, twelve of silver alloy).

Descriptions:
The hoard has been subject to a preliminary study, photography, radiography and scientific analysis. The readings of the inscribed plaques are all provisional.

1) Hollow silver figurine of a standing woman dressed in a full-length garment, her left shoulder bare and her left arm supporting a fold of drapery. The figurine is corroded, fragmentary and distorted, and partly covered and filled with soil. The woman's feet, face, and arms from elbow downwards are broken away and most of the front is also lacking - only the shoulders and left breast remain, the latter very corroded. The back of the figurine preserves the fine modelling of the drapery and the woman's hair, which is parted on the crown and formed into a bun on the nape of the neck. No distinctive attribute survives to identify the woman as a particular deity.
Height 147.7 mm. Weight (includes soil and detached fragments) 108.4 g.

2) Cast silver female fore-arm and hand, holding a phiale, in the form of a plano-convex disc, its convex underside quartered, with a central dimple. The modelling of the hand is extremely fine. The arm has a core of lead or lead-alloy.
Length 39.6 mm. Weight 29.5 g.

3) Cast silver female fore-arm and hand, holding a pair of corn ears. As no. 2, the modelling is very accomplished. The ears of corn are detailed with incised lines, and there is an incised curvilinear design on the arm. Like no. 2, the arm has a core of lead or lead-alloy.
Length 56.6 mm. Weight 28.4 g.

In size and weight, and, in particular, in their mode of manufacture, nos. 2 and 3 do not appear to be part of the figurine, no. 1, and there is no physical evidence that they were ever attached to it.

4) and 5) A pair of gold disc brooches, with catch-plates, but lacking their pin and hinge assembly. Each has a central ovoid setting, with a deep blue glass inlay, and a quartered design based on four raised rectangular settings. Soil still adheres to their front face. Pending conservation, the following description has been compiled using optical examination, a binocular microscope and radiography. Their flat back-plate has a plain perimeter strip encircled by a beaded wire filigree, c. 0.5 mm. in diameter. A plain strip also forms the settings for the central ovoid inlay and the four rectangular inlays. The settings are joined by a symmetrical beaded wire filigree design. It comprises four 5-rayed stars interspersed with the four rectangular settings, additional rays linking the rectangular settings to the central setting, and an arc of three further rays around the perimeter, between each pair of rectangular settings. At the nodal points of the rays there are tiny granulated rosettes. The inlays of the four rectangular settings are glass. Radiography reveals that all are perforated longitudinally, and it is probable that they are re-used glass beads. The brooches were clearly a matching pair, though they are not identical, no. 4 having a substantially larger central inlay.
Diameter (no. 4) 42.6 - 43.6 mm. (no. 5) 42.9 - 43.9 mm. Length of setting (no. 4) 16.6 mm. (no. 5) 13.7 mm. Weight (includes soil) (no. 4) 19.1 g. (no. 5) 16.0 g.

6) A pair of gold discs linked by a gold chain. The chain, a simple loop-in-loop construction, has 82 links. It is attached by means of a looped fastening to one end of a slender lozenge-shaped strip, which is soldered to the back of each disc. A second fastening loop at the other end of the strip survives on disc (a). Both discs have suffered a little damage to their coiled wire edging. Soil accretions obscure much of the front face of the discs, but radiography has clarified their ornament. They are a matching pair with an identical design, based on the use of beaded wire filigree (c. 0.3-0.4 mm. diameter). Their back-plate has a central hollow which accommodates the focal circular setting of the design. It is enclosed by a star, which is surrounded by four heart-shaped motifs interspersed with four petals. Encompassing the whole design, inside a beaded wire perimeter, is a beaded wire filigree coil, with eight symmetrically-placed tiny circular beaded wire settings (external diameter 2 mm.). The settings contain coloured glass or enamel inlay, four of dark blue interspersed with four of light blue or turquoise. The petal motifs are also set with dark blue inlay.
Diameter of discs 25.1-25.3 mm. Total length 350 mm. Total weight 16.3 g.

7) Oval gem-set gold clasp. The design is based on three zones: around the perimeter a coiled filigree beaded wire is set within a pair of walls made from a plain strip; the intermediate zone comprises an openwork arrangement of eighteen stylised acanthus leaves; and the central zone is occupied by an oval raised setting with a large, low-domed, shiny red carnelian gemstone. The gem is engraved with the figure of a standing lion, its front left paw resting on a bull's head or ox-skull (bucranium). There is a strand of foliage behind the rear legs. The very close proximity of the lion's mane and the foliage to the edge of the stone suggests that it may be a cut-down re-set gem. The setting, now loose, comprises a low-walled oval 'box', tightly enclosing the gemstone. Soldered to the back-plate is a wire fastening, with in-turned, blunt-pointed terminals.
Length 45.0mm. Length fastening 60.5mm. Length setting 20.5mm. Total weight 28.1 g. Weight stone and setting 5.5 g.

8) Gold votive plaque, near-complete, in four distorted joining pieces. In the lower section is a schematically-rendered gabled shrine, its frame formed by panels of herring-bone patterning, with a simple leaf motif in the pediment. In the shrine stands an embossed figure of Minerva, with her aegis, her head turned to the right, holding a spear in her right hand and a shield in the left, and wearing a crested helmet. Standing by her right foot is an owl. Above the shrine is an ornate three-tiered finial with leaf-markings, volutes and rosettes. Beneath is a two-line punctim inscription in a slender ansate panel, the right end damaged. The inscription reads:

CLCELSVSV............. SENVN L B M

Although the inscription is incomplete, and some letters are uncertain, it is evident that a man named Celsus dedicated the plaque to a goddess named Sena, Senua, Senuna, or similar.
Height c.179 mm. Weight 15.8 g.

9-14) Six gold votive plaques, five of them stuck together with a blackish waxy substance, the uppermost one now detached. Total weight 46.7g.

9) Slender gold votive plaque, now detached from its uppermost position on the stack of six gold plaques. Embossed in the centre is a schematically-rendered slender gabled shrine, with a volute-ornament at the apex of the gable. In the shrine stands Minerva, lightly turned to her left, holding a spear in her right hand and a shield in the left, and wearing a crested helmet. Above the shrine is a simple leaf-marked finial. Beneath is a punctim inscription in a tiny ansate panel. The basal tab has been squashed back against itself. Together with a little damage, this has obscured part of the inscription, which appears to read

CARIAT IA REST VSL M

indicating that a person named Cariatus (or Cariatia, or similar) dedicated the plaque in fulfilment of a vow.
Height 135.3 mm. Weight 5.7 g.

10) Tiny triangular gold votive plaque, with leaf-marked decoration and a basal tab.
Height 62.6 mm.

11) Gold votive plaque, with an embossed scene showing a figure holding a spear and shield standing in a gabled shrine. Above is a two-tiered leaf-marked finial; below a basal tab.
Height 148.5 mm.

12) Gold votive plaque, details mostly obscured by flanking plaques.

13) Gold votive plaque, with four-tiered finial and basal tab.
Height 152.5 mm.

14) Slender gold votive plaque, with three-tiered finial and basal tab. Adhering to the surface are silver corrosion products deriving from its juxtaposition with nos. 1-3 in the ground.
Height 117.5 mm.

15) Silver votive plaque, in three joining pieces. Embossed in the lower section is a gabled shrine, which comprises a pair of spiral-fluted columns, with ornate base and capital, surmounted by a pediment with cable-moulded cornices enclosing an arched niche. In the shrine stands Minerva, her head turned to her right, holding a spear in her right hand and a shield in the left, and wearing a crested helmet. The two-tiered leaf-marked finial above the shrine is slightly chipped and fragmentary, especially on the left side. The shallow V-shaped lower edge of the plaque is complete, without a tab.
Height 117 mm. Weight 6.9 g.

16) Silver votive plaque, the broken top and sides ornamented with leaf patterns. Embossed in the centre is a gabled shrine. It comprises a pair of spiral-fluted columns with ornate base and capital, surmounted by a pediment, with cable-moulded cornices, which encloses a wreath. In the shrine stands Minerva, her head turned to her left, holding a spear in her right hand and a shield in the left, and wearing a crested helmet. Beneath is a large ansate panel (its right side broken) with a three-line punctim inscription. A large tab survives on the lower edge. A relatively thick sub-triangular sheet of silver (height 32 mm.), now detached, was originally fastened to the plaque, at the back of the tab and ansate panel, by two blobs of solder. The inscription, which appears to read

DEAE SIINA I[ LVCILIAPRIMI[ VSLM

indicates that the plaque was dedicated to the goddess Sena by a woman named Lucilia, who 'willingly and deservedly fulfilled her vow'.
Maximum surviving height 184 mm. Weight 26 g. Weight of attached sheet 7.6 g.

17) Silver votive plaque, in four joining fragments. The upper finial, with leaf-patterning and 'propeller' motifs, is broken, but the base and chevron-ornamented sides of the lower section are near-complete. Embossed in the lower section is a gabled shrine. It comprises a pair of slender spiral-fluted columns surmounted by a pediment with cable-moulded cornices. In the shrine stands Minerva, with her aegis, her head turned to her right, holding a spear in her left hand and a shield in the right, and wearing a crested helmet. Beneath is a reserved rectangular space, which appears not to have been inscribed. There is a tiny broken tab on the lower edge.
Maximum surviving height 181 mm. Weight 21.3 g.

18) A highly-embossed and finely-detailed silver votive plaque, in two joining pieces, the uppermost tip and left side fragmentary. Within a gabled panel, framed by a narrow border of leaf-patterning, are two figured scenes. The smaller occupies the triangular gabled space, edged by a beaded cornice, at the top of the plaque. Beneath a crescent moon in the apex is a frontal draped bust of the Sun god, in very high relief, with long, thick curling hair, a radiated diadem, and his distinctive short whip depicted at his left shoulder. Below, in the larger sub-rectangular space, the goddess Roma is shown, turned to her right, seated on a pile of trophies. She wears a crested helmet, ankle boots, a short tunic, and a mantle draped over her left shoulder. In her left arm she supports a spear, while on the hand of her outstretched right arm stands a small winged victory flourishing a wreath in her right hand. In front of the goddess, at her feet, is another figure, shown in profile, head facing to the right, rather incomplete because of the damage to the plaque at this point. A sword and ?shield lie on the ground between the two figures.
Maximum surviving height 144.5 mm. Weight 13 g.

19) Silver-gilt votive plaque, part of the left side missing, and all edges fragmentary. Embossed in the centre is a gabled shrine, which comprises a pair of slender spiral-fluted columns with ornate base and capital, surmounted by a pediment with moulded cornices and angle ornaments. The pediment encloses a wreath, and the gilding appears to be restricted to this area of the plaque. In the shrine stands Minerva with her aegis, her veiled head turned to her right, holding a spear in her left hand and a phiale in the right. Standing by her right foot is an owl. Below is a reserved space, apparently devoid of lettering. The shrine is framed by an arched border marked with a herring-bone pattern.
Maximum surviving height 106.5 mm. Weight 11.5 g.

20) Silver votive plaque, all edges fragmentary. Although the sides are broken away the embossed gabled shrine is mostly intact. It comprises a pair of spiral-fluted columns, with ornate base and capital, surmounted by a simple gabled top. In the shrine stands Minerva, her head turned to her left, holding a spear in her right hand and a shield in the left, and wearing a crested helmet. Below is an ansate panel, apparently un-inscribed.
Maximum surviving height 109.3 mm. Weight 6.1 g.

21) Silver votive plaque, base and top broken, and most edges very fragmentary. The sides are ornamented with a chevron pattern. Embossed in the centre is a gabled shrine, which comprises a pair of cigar-shaped, spiral-fluted columns, with ornate base and capital, surmounted by a pediment enclosing an arched niche with cable-moulded cornice. In the shrine stands Minerva with her aegis, her head turned to her left, holding a spear in her right hand and a shield in the left, and wearing a crested helmet. In an arc above and below the niche is a two-line punctim inscription. The shrine has been struck from the same die as that on plaque no. 23, and the inscription is also the same as that on plaque 23. The inscription reads

DSE SERVANDVS HISPANI V S L

'Servandus Hispani willingly fulfilled his vow to the goddess Se(na)'
Maximum surviving height 72.5 mm. Weight 4.8 g.

22) Slender silver votive plaque, lacking only the upper tip and lower left corner. The upper part is in the form of a tapering leaf with oblique ribs, terminating in a broken discoid finial. Embossed at the lower, broader, end is a little gabled shrine, with a pair of spiral-fluted columns surmounted by a pediment. No figure is visible within the shrine, and the surviving part of the base of the plaque appears to be un-inscribed.
Surviving height 135.2 mm. Weight 3.2 g.

23) Silver votive plaque with waisted sides, in five joining pieces, fragmentary at the top and at the bottom left corner. The top is of ornate form with elaborate leaf-markings, and the sides and base are ornamented with a chevron pattern. Embossed in the centre is a gabled shrine of identical form to that on plaque no. 21, and certainly struck from the same die. The two-line punctim inscription, set in an arc above and below the niche, is also the same as that on plaque 21. It reads

DSE SERVANDVS HISPANI V S L

'Servandus Hispani willingly fulfilled his vow to the goddess Se(na)'
Maximum surviving height 145.5 mm. Weight 11.5 g.

24) Silver votive plaque, very incomplete, in four joining fragments. The top, bottom and right side are missing and it is only on the left side that part of the original edge survives. Nevertheless, the overall composition of the plaque is clear. At the upper end of the surviving fragments is an embossed double shrine with spiral columns, the two gables mostly lacking. In the shrine on the left stands Minerva, her head turned slightly to her left, holding a spear in her right hand and a shield in the left, and wearing a crested helmet. Only a fragment of the left side of the right portico survives, showing a standing figure, holding a spear, apparently in the right hand. Beneath the double shrine is an ansate panel in which there is an embossed three-line inscription, almost half of which, on the right side, is missing. Below are the remains of elaborate ornament comprising a cone- or trumpet-shaped motif, flanked by ovoid or wing-like motifs (part of one, only, remaining). There is further leaf ornament to the left of the shrine. The inscription reads

DEAESENVA[. . . . . FIRMANV[. . . . V[SLM]

and reveals that the plaque was dedicated to the goddess Sena (or Senua) in fulfilment of a vow by a man named Firmanus.
Maximum surviving height 111 mm. Weight 9 g.

25) Silver votive plaque, very incomplete, in three joining fragments, all edges broken. An embossed gabled shrine is depicted, with spiral-fluted columns surmounted by a pediment with cable-moulded cornices. In the shrine stands Minerva, holding a spear in her right hand and a shield in the left, and wearing a crested helmet. Part of her head and torso are lacking. Remnants of leaf ornament survive at bottom left and above the shrine.
Maximum surviving height 109 mm. Weight 3.7 g.

26) Slender silver votive plaque, in two joining pieces, the top broken, in the form of a tapering leaf with oblique ribs.
Surviving height 79 mm. Weight 2.8 g. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The find also includes: Many tiny, shattered fragments of the silver-alloy votive plaques. Three iron nails found with the hoard. One iron nail from above the hoard. Sherds of pottery from the immediate environs of the hoard.

Metal composition:
Non-destructive X-ray fluorescence analysis of the surface of items in the hoard, conducted in the Department of Scientific Research at the British Museum, indicated the following precious metal contents. (Analysis of the most corroded and fragile pieces was not attempted).
Object No.
1 Hollow silver figurine 97% silver
2 Silver fore-arm 91% silver, tin-lead core
4 Gold disc brooch 92% gold
6 Pair of chained gold discs 91% gold
7 Gold clasp with carnelian intaglio 93% gold Intaglio setting 94% gold
8 Gold plaque 96% gold
9 Gold plaque 90% gold 20 Silver-alloy plaque 64% silver

Identification:
The hoard comprises gold and silver objects, evidently placed in the ground in a careful and controlled way. Most of the objects are votive plaques of a type known from sites both in Roman Britain and from other parts of the Roman Empire. Such plaques were intended for dedication, at a temple or shrine, to one or more gods or goddesses. Many of the plaques in the present case are embossed with the image of the goddess Minerva, but those with inscriptions reveal that the deity (or one of the deities) in question was named Sena (or similar), and that the names of those people dedicating to the goddess appear to include Cariatus, Celsus, Firmanus, Lucilia and Servandus. The two model arms were also probably votive objects and the figurine, a standard Roman type, may be interpreted in the same light. In such a context it is very probable that the jewellery, too, was votive in character. Although it is impossible to determine unequivocally the reason for its burial, the hoard may be dated to the later 3rd or 4th century AD, and it was clearly connected to a temple or shrine.

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: British Museum
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2002T215

Chronology

Broad period: ROMAN
Period from: ROMAN [scope notes | view all attributed records]
Period to: ROMAN [scope notes | view all attributed records]
Date from: Circa AD 250
Date to: Circa AD 350

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 29th September 2002

Personal details

Recorded by: Ian Richardson - [ view all attributed records]
Identified by: Ralph Jackson - [view all attributed records]

Other reference numbers

Treasure case number: 2002T215

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver [scope notes | view all attributed records]
Secondary material: Gold [scope notes| view all attributed records]
Completeness: Incomplete [scope notes | view all attributed records]

A resized image of Figurine of the Goddess Senuna - catalogue entry 1

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Spatial metadata

Region: Eastern
County: Hertfordshire
District: North Hertfordshire
Parish: Baldock Town

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Audit data

Created: Tuesday 26th June 2012
Updated: Thursday 12th July 2012

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