SWYOR-7D663C: SWYOR-7D663C Roman Cosmetic Mortar

Rights Holder: West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service
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Unique ID: SWYOR-7D663C

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

A copper-alloy zoomorphic cosmetic mortar with a bovine head at one end, dating from the Late Iron Age to the Roman period, 100 BC - 300 AD.

The form of the object appears almost complete. A suspension loop with a flat edge appears at the center of the base, an internal diameter of 8mm. The loop widens into a full crescent-shaped bow or body that tapers at the terminals, although one terminal (front terminal) is wider than the other. This creates a boat-like shape with a hollow body. Starting from the front terminal, there is a projection of a three-dimensional animal head at 45 degrees, tapering at the animal's snout. The face has a small pointed snout, two recessed annulats for eyes, and a pair of horns curving up and forwards, and ears projecting from the head. The ears have sub-triangular hollows rerepenting the ear opening, as well as hollows on the reverse between the ear and horn. The hollows are filled with bright orange corrosion or soil. These facial features are mostly intact, with slight damage to the tip of the left ear and partially the snout. Overall, these form the design of a bull or cow. 

The bow is mostly intact, with slight damage to the ridge, mostly breaks that protrude 1mm down the side of the object. The internal section, or vessel, of the bow is small, with a depth of 4.8mm. The grinding groove is U shaped in cross-section. The orange patina present within the vessel appears similar to the colour on the head. The terminal at the other end appears sheared or broken at the end, it is possible a more decorative terminal was originally present, as is common with other mortars.

There is no apparent decoration on the sides of the object. There are grooves of non-oxidized copper-alloy present, suggesting post-excavation factors damaged the object. There is a mixture of a green and grey patina, as well as the orange patina within the vessel and at the head of the object. The overall length is 76.1mm, with a width of 18.5mm and a height of 57mm. The object weighs 39.59g. 

There is no really close parallel in Jackson (2010), but 350 on page 157 has similarities.

Cosmetic sets are a particularly British object type and were in use before the Roman invasion. They date from 100 BC - AD 300, but the heyday of their use was the late 1st - 2nd century AD. They were used to grind a small amount of mineral powder, for use as a cosmetic or medicine.


Bovine cosmetic mortars are not common finds, so it has been marked as a Find of Note.

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: County / local importance

Class: centre looped

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: ROMAN
Subperiod from: Late
Period from: IRON AGE
Period to: ROMAN
Date from: Circa 100 BC
Date to: Circa AD 300

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 76.1 mm
Width: 57 mm
Thickness: 18.5 mm
Weight: 39.59 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 25th September 2021 - Saturday 25th September 2021

Personal details

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Other reference numbers

Other reference: PAS form number 3751

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: East Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Lincolnshire (County)
District: South Kesteven (District)
Parish or ward: Baston (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: TF1215
Four figure Latitude: 52.72106694
Four figure longitude: -0.3432
1:25K map: TF1215
1:10K map: TF11NW
Grid reference source: Centred on field
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

Author Publication Year Title Publication Place Publisher Pages Reference
Jackson, R. 2010 Cosmetic Sets of Late Iron Age and Roman Britain London British Museum Press 157 350

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: SWYOR
Created: 6 months ago
Updated: 6 months ago

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