SOM-745EA2: Roman cockerel shaped vessel, probably an oil lamp

Rights Holder: Somerset County Council
CC License:

Rights Holder: Somerset County Council
CC License:

Rights Holder: Somerset County Council
CC License:

Image use policy

Our images can be used under a CC BY attribution licence (unless stated otherwise).


Unique ID: SOM-745EA2

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

Roman cast copper alloy cockerel (chicken) shaped vessel, possibly a votive object. The vessel is moulded in the form of a standing cockerel, the tail, wings, wattle and part of the beak are missing to old breaks. The feet have become detached from the body by a modern break across the legs. It is hollow with an opening in the back which, by parallel with other examples, would have been covered by the wings.

The upper part of the beak is complete with a highly arched top and solid lower side, the lower part of the beak is missing due to an old break. The eyes on each side of the head are formed of a raised disk, on each disc is an indented central dot filled with blue enamel surrounded by an incised ring. The flat comb is on top of the head directly above the eye. The front edge is straight, and the rear edge curved, both widen outwards form the head, the curved upper edge has two indents creating three sections. A rough point on the underside of the head below the edge indicates where the wattle was attached.

On the chest are six lines of indented triangular cells arranged 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1, the cells have concave curved lower edges and probably represent feathers. They are filled with green and blue enamel, the green in particular can be hard to distinguish from corrosion products in some cases. The cells in the lower row (of 6) are all filled with blue enamel although that on the left is almost completely empty. The line of five has alternating blue and green enamel with blue at the ends of the rows. The row of four are all blue. The row of three are green, blue, green. The row of two are probably both blue although the left one is unclear. the topmost cell was probably filled with green enamel although this is unclear and may only survive in the bottom left corner.

The legs project separately from the wide base of the body which is indented between the thighs. They project initially backwards but just below the body they bend forward at the knee running in a straight line to the feet. They are round in section narrowing towards the feet. On the inner side of each left just above the feet is a small projecting spur. The feet each have three forward toes and one at the back. They rest on a ground which, by joining the toes, joining the feet at the front and projecting beyond the side of the feet, is penannular, at the back the ends of the break are fresh although this may be from damage to the tip or because the ends were originally joined.

The opening on the back is original with a rounded edge, it starts on the neck and curves out to cover the entire back leaving only shallow sides, particularly above the legs. The tail is lost to a straight break. Above the rim of the opening on the neck is a incised curved line.

It is 68.42mm high excluding the legs, 106.7mm including the legs and base. It is c.72mm beak to tail and 43.3mm wide at the widest point of the body. The two pieces together weigh 104.98g

The object has been published by Worrell (2012, 81-82; figs. 8.14-8.16)


Discussing an almost identical find from Lancashire (LANCUM-361F75), Worrell (2005:436-7) wrote: "Only a few such vessels, which probably date to the late second/early third century are known form the North-Western provinces....These objects are usually identified as oil lamps". The article (ibid:437) suggest the Lancashire example and another from Tongren (Vanderhoeven 1967) are so similar as to probably be the product of the same workshop and this new example clearly also belongs to the same group. An example is also known from London (Smith 1922:94).

A more recent find of a complete example from a grave in Cirencester suggests thse are not lamp but an elaborate casket to hold an item in the hollow of the body, possibly with votive uses.

Drawing by Michael Trevarthen.

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: Potential for inclusion in Britannia

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: ROMAN
Period from: ROMAN
Period to: ROMAN
Date from: Circa AD 175
Date to: Circa AD 225

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 72 mm
Height: 106.7 mm
Width: 43.3 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 1st January 1950

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Ms Laura Burnett
Identified by: Ms Laura Burnett

Other reference numbers

Other reference: SCC 020757

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Secondary material: Enamel
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Incomplete
Surface Treatment: Inlaid with enamel

Spatial metadata

Region: Eastern (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Bedford (Unitary Authority)
District: Bedford (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: Cople

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Agricultural or drainage work
Discovery circumstances: While ploughing
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

Similar objects

Find number: HAMP-29A5F1
Object type: BROOCH
Broadperiod: ROMAN
An incomplete cast copper-alloy zoomorphic plate brooch in the form of an eagle (c. 2nd century AD). The losses are confined to the lower sur…
Workflow: PublishedFind published

Find number: LIN-1B0408
Object type: BROOCH
Broadperiod: ROMAN
Incomplete cast copper alloy enameled zoomorphic (Duck) brooch of early Roman date, probably 2nd Century AD (100 - 200 AD). The body of th…
Workflow: Awaiting validationFind awaiting validation

Find number: IOW-E88B94
Object type: BROOCH
Broadperiod: ROMAN
An incomplete Roman cast copper-alloy and enamelled zoomorphic plate brooch (AD 100-200). The brooch is in the form of a sitting hen or coc…
Workflow: Awaiting validationFind awaiting validation

Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: SOM
Created: 8 years ago
Updated: 3 years ago

Other formats: this page is available as qrcode json xml geojson pdf rdf representations.