LON-E6DF14: Iron Age to Early Medieval copper alloy zoomorphic mount

Rights Holder: Museum of London
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Unique ID: LON-E6DF14

Object type certainty: Certain
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A late Iron Age to early Roman copper alloy zoomorphic probably a vessel handle mount, dating 300BC - AD100. The mount is key-hole shaped with a round upper section and oval lower section and has been decoratively cast in the form of an animal's head with projecting nose. On either side of the nose grooves mark oval eyes each with a circular, central hole in the place of a pupil and there is a stepped section on the forehead. This stepped section is decorated with incised chevrons. The nose has two pronounced nostrils each with a central, circular pit and a slightly curving groove marks the mouth. Underneath the head there is a collar at the junction between the head and the lower oval section. Two cast spiral whorls terminating in a central pellet decorate the lower edge of the lower oval section. The reverse is hollow with the remains of a square-shanked iron nail still in situ in the lower oval section. On the reverse of the round upper section the edge is stepped in to create a circular hole with a semi-circular rim. There is a tiny section of gilding remaining on the right cheek of the beast. The copper alloy has a mid-dark green patina. The weight of the copper alloy suggests it might be leaded bronze.

Angela Wardle notes the cast spiral whorls on the lower section appear to be in the Roman tradition but the beast's head is not of the Roman style. Jody Joy says the round eyes and gilding is not typical for Iron Age material and that it may have a more Roman date. Ralph Jackson says: "the iconography and workmanship has a Roman-period Iron Age look. It looks to me as though two zoomorphic heads could be 'read' and that sort of visual play would also fit the Roman/Iron Age tag." The second zoomorphic head could be interpreted where the spiral whorls are the nostrils of horse type beast. Ralph continues to say that the iron nail would suggest a wooden vessel rather than copper alloy.

An object which shares elements with this example is a pair of ram-head mounts from Harpenden in Hertfordshire illustrated in Jope (2000:266 pl170). The animals depicted are different but the forms of the mounts are similar. The Harpenden examples are cast bronze mounts for a wooden vessel with hemispherical hollows at the back perhaps to take the swivel of a swing handle and there is a lower rivet for attachment.

Dimensions: length: 45.70mm; width: 21.13mm; thickness: 30.70mm; diameter of hole on reverse: 6.86mm; weight: 56.30g.

Identifications by Angela Wardle, Roman Specialist, Museum of London Archaeology; Jody Joy, Curator, Iron Age Collections, Department of Prehistory and Europe; The British Museum. Ralph Jackson, Curator, Roman Collections, Department of Prehistory and Europe; The British Museum. Jon Cotton, Senior Prehistoric Curator Museum of London.

Reference: Jope, E. M. 2000. Early Celtic Art in the British Isles. Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: Regional importance

Class: Vessel handle

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


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

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 45.7 mm
Width: 21.13 mm
Thickness: 30.7 mm
Weight: 56.3 g
Diameter: 6.86 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Monday 1st January 1990

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mrs Kate Sumnall
Identified by: Jon Cotton

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Secondary material: Iron
Manufacture method: Cast
Decoration style: Zoomorphic
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Kent (County)
District: Gravesham (District)

References cited

Author Publication Year Title Publication Place Publisher Pages Reference
Jope, E.M. 2000 Early Celtic Art in the British Isles Oxford Oxford University Press pl 170

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: LON
Created: 9 years ago
Updated: 8 years ago

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