HOARD

Unique ID: WILT-0F898C

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

A hoard of eight Roman vessels including a cauldron, two bowls (including an Irchester bowl), a vessel and four scale pans. The hoard was discovered through metal detecting on Sunday 26th October 2014. The majority of the hoard apart from the damaged iron rimmed vessel is in a good condition, tinning is visible in places on a number of the vessels and there is no active corrosion.

When removed by the finders they recorded the basic depth of the plough soil and depth of each object was recorded. The top soil was recorded as being c. 300-400mm to the top of the iron rimmed vessel.

Post discovery and removal the find spot was excavated by David Roberts of Historic England and PASt Landscapes with the help of the WAHNS Archaeology group and the Assistant County Archaeology for Wiltshire. The excavation was undertaken to ascertain if the depositional cut for the hoard could be deduced.

Within the Cauldron the two bowls, vessel and scale pans have been carefully placed. The inverted Irchester bowl (Described as Vessel C) whose base was 25mm below the rim of the Cauldron. The base of the cauldron was a further 25mm below the rim of Vessel C. The base of the inverted Vessel C was 25mm below the rim of the iron rimmed vessel. Within the Cauldron (and inverted Vessel C) was Vessel A (a bowl) which was facing upwards and lay directly upon the base of the Cauldron. Inside of Vessel A was Vessel B, again facing upwards. The feet associated with Vessel B had become detached but were present within the sediment fill of Vessel A. Between the inside edge of Vessel C and Vessels A and B was a substantial fill of minerogenic material (including some small fragments of alloy). Within Vessel B was a series of organic remains and, within these, a series of four inverted scale pans. The approximate orientation of the hoard during discovery is shown in the images. The structured nature of the hoard has led to the conditions required for the survival of the organic material located primarily within Vessel B.

A description of each of the vessels within the hoard is provided in the catalogue below. The alloy composition of each vessels was established non-destructively using a Portable X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry (pXRF). No cleaning of the vessels was undertaken after excavation, meaning that the sediments and organic material adhering to each vessel was retained in situ. This has permitted environmental archaeologists to carefully subsample the various vessels in order to extract important information about their use, local environment, and material used to pack the vessels together prior to deposition in the ground, as well as direct dating of the organic material contained within them.

Iron rimmed cauldron

This thin copper alloy vessel contained all the other deposited objects. This was orientated with the rim facing the surface.

The condition of the vessel is fragmentary and the vessel is particularly delicate. The vessel has been constructed from thin hammered sheet and is damaged. The body and part of the rim of the vessel are separate from the base. A further group of numerous fragments was removed by the finders including fragments of the copper alloy body and the iron rim.

The majority of the base of the cauldron survives and is 310mm in length, 280mm wide and 0.32mm thick. There was a large copper alloy vessel (Vessel C) which contained all of the remaining vessels from the hoard and was deposited upside down on the cauldron and possibly acted as a lid. The breaks are roughly in line with the impression left where the rim of Vessel C was touching the base of the cauldron. The base of Vessel A is also visible as an impression on the base of the cauldron. Some evidence of black deposits are visible internally on the base and lipid and soil samples have been taken. To the reverse there are large amounts of black deposits underneath the soil. This is possibly due to burning or cooking and lipid and soil samples have been taken. No images of the reverse have been taken due to the highly fragile nature of the base. A possible piece of cloth or textile has been removed as a sample for further analysis.

The main body of the cauldron is a slightly irregular shape due to the lack of support and is 330mm in length and 285mm wide. The side walls curve inwards slightly towards the centre. There are some black deposits externally. Internally and externally there is no evidence of decoration or repairs. No deposits are visible internally. No soil samples were taken due to the fragile nature of this fragment.

A large fragment of rim or possibly a handle survives and is 335mm in length. 33mm wide and 11mm thick. The iron is corroded in places and there is a major crack in the fragment.

Although highly fragmentary the cauldron is in a good condition and there is little evidence of corrosion and no active corrosion.

pXRF analysis on five samples from the body of the cauldron and two from the base suggests that the cauldron is made from a high tin bronze alloy.

Vessel A

This held in place all of the remaining vessels placed inside Vessel C and was located against the base of the iron rimmed vessel and orientated in the same way. The rim of the vessel is uneven (it is roughly 8mm wide and 2.5mm thick), this appears to be from manufacture rather than decoration due to the uneven manner. The sides of the vessel narrow from the rim which is 246mm in diameter to the base which is 210mm in diameter. The vessel is 38mm in depth at the edge, the depth would be greater in the centre of the vessel as the base is concave.

The vessel has some cracks located at the juncture between the side of the vessel and the base. Internally some soil survives, none appears to be straw. All the soil was kept from this vessel after discovery and within the soil was the detached copper alloy lead filled feet of Vessel B. Hay is visible within this soil. A soil and lipid sample has been taken internally.

To the reverse of the vessel is a dark soil or substance covered by a lighter soil. It could be that the darker soil is evidence for cooking or heating the base of the vessel. A soil and lipid sample has been taken internally.

pXRF analysis suggests that Vessel A is constructed from a high tin leaded bronze.

Vessel B

The vessel was deposited with the flared rim touching the internal wall and base of Vessel C (i.e. the flared rim was facing the surface). The base has corrosion products located in the area where the three lead filled copper alloy feet would have been attached. The corrosion suggests that the fragmentary feet would have been D shaped.

The walls are flat and straight (85mm in height) with a thicker rim which expands internally and very slightly outwards (6.25mm thick), the rim expands from 9.7mm below the flattened top. The base is slightly concave and subsequently has become detached. On the inside of the vessel is evidence of a significant amount of hay packing in the centre of the base (some has been covered with copper-corrosion on the internal sides of the vessel). The base is detached from the sides - this probably happened some time ago, at these breaks the vessel is c. 0.75mm thick. There is a wide variety of corrosion product on the inside of the vessel - the lower part of the internal walls towards the broken edge is a bluish green (possibly suggesting sulphur corrosion). There is evidence of similar bluish green corrosion on the inside of the base as well and on the outside of the base under the marks of the possible feet. The patina on the walls varies from the bluish green to mid brown towards the flared rim. The bluish green patina also has large patches of blue corrosion internally and also externally (but to a lesser degree externally). A sample of the hay and soil has been taken from the soil internally.

The external walls are decorated with six sets of double parallel incised circumferential grooves with evidence of tinning. There are three double sets of lines towards the top and the bottom of the walls - it is not clear whether the central band is undecorated due to the corrosion and soil. There are significant cracks in the vessel walls from the rim downwards.

The feet are fragmentary although the best surviving example is approximately 55mm wide and 36mm long and 13.35mm thick - weighs 42.99grams. These are made of lead lining internally and bronze externally (comparator Kingston Deverill wine strainer feet). They are D or shell shaped. They appear to taper in towards the base of the foot (with the widest part attached to the base).

pXRF analysis suggests that internally the base of Vessel B is a high tin leaded bronze, the analysis of the reverse suggested a broadly similar alloy with arsenic traces. The analysis of the body of Vessel B suggested increased levels of zinc within the alloy externally potentially due to surface tinning.. The feet appeared to be constructed from varying alloys, two were a high lead alloy, the third was high tin, potentially suggesting a possible repair.

Vessel C

This Irchester bowl was deposited upside down with the base facing the surface. Half of the soil filling this vessel whichsurrounded the other deposits has remained in situ. There is evidence internally of fragments of Vessel B within the surviving soil left in situ. There are four small dishes with circular perforations and loops which are two sets of two scale pans deposited within Vessel C which were also deposited upside down with their bases facing the surface.

The bowl is 110mm in height, the base is convex and from the base the body expands to its maximum width just below the rim before tapering inwards slightly to the rim (296mm) which has a bevelled edge (3.65mm thick). The base is convex on the outside and is domed upwards in the centre (93mm in diameter), internally the centre of the raised boss to the rim is 102mm. The patina of the internal walls is dark green. The internal walls patina is lighter towards the rim. Towards the base, the patina is a rich emerald green. The green patina is fragile and is easily dislodged to reveal a dark blackish brown patina beneath. The patina on the outside suggests tin on the surface and the vessel is in a good condition. Not all soil has been cleaned off externally. There is evidence of hay in the base of the vessel (possibly from Vessel B). The insitu soil means that photographs could not be taken of the whole internal surface.

pXRF analysis suggests that internally the alloy of Vessel C was a tin bronze and externally the alloy from three samples (the rim, body and the base) suggest a high tin bronze potentially due to surface tinning.

Scale pan A

A shallow copper alloy curved bowl (65.45mm in diameter, 15.25mm in height and weighs 28.62 grams). The reverse is undecorated. There are four small rings (c. 7.5mm in diameter and 1.5mm wide) placed at regular intervals around the rim within circular drilled perforations. There is soil internally and there is straw with the soil, when the soil is included the weight is 42.80 grams. The scale pan appears to be part of a pair with Scale pan B. A sample has been taken from the soil internally.

Scale pan B

A shallow copper alloy curved bowl although it is slightly wider and deeper than Scale pan A (68.6mm in diameter, 15.55mm in height and weighs 27.76 grams). The reverse is undecorated. There are four small rings (c. 7.4mm in diameter and 1.65mm wide) placed at regular intervals around the rim within circular drilled perforations. There is soil internally and there is straw with the soil, when the soil is included the weight is 51.29 grams. The scale pan appears to be part of a pair with Scale pan A. There is evidence of hay packing attached to the vessel as well as in the soil. A sample has been taken from the soil internally.

Scale pan A and Scale pan B were constructed from a high tin leaded bronze

Scale pan C

A deeper and slightly distorted copper alloy curved bowl (66.5mm in length, 66mm wide, 24.65mm in height and weighs 19.14 grams) The reverse is undecorated. There are four small rings placed at regular intervals around the rim within circular drilled perforations. There is soil internally and there is straw with the soil, when the soil is included the weight is 27.75 grams. The scale pan appears to be part of a pair with Scale pan D. There is evidence of hay packing attached to vessel as well as in the soil. A sample has been taken from the soil internally.

Scale pan D

A deeper and slightly distorted copper alloy curved bowl (67.3mm in length, 65.95mm wide, 24.45mm in height and weighs 18.51 grams) The reverse is undecorated. There are four small rings placed at regular intervals around the rim within circular drilled perforations. There is soil internally and there is straw with the soil, when the soil is included the weight is 30.10 grams. The scale pan appears to be part of a pair with Scale pan C. A sample has been taken from the soil internally.

Scale pan C and Scale pan D were constructed from a leaded bronze.

Notes:

Within the inner vessels plant remains were preserved by mineral desiccation and these are assumed to be packing material. The majority of the plant remains consisted of the flowers of Centaurea (knapweed), the pinnule tips of Pteridium aquilinum (bracken), and stem fragments. A total of 23 Centaurea flower heads were counted including two identified as Centaurea nigra (common knapweed). The elongate petals were clearly visible, having dried and contracted but remained intact.

The composition of the archaeobotanical assemblage has demonstrated that the hoard was packed during the mid-late summer using vegetation (notably grasses, knapweed and bracken) derived from local grassland communities. The wider environmental setting is likely to have also included grazed pasture and some arable farming. The taxa present in the hoard suggests a July or August date for the cutting of the vegetation. Pollen analysis from soil samples within the vessels shows a local environment (at the time of packing) consisting of areas of disturbed vegetation, such as by ditches, roads, paths or rivers where knapweed and bracken are often seen growing together. Pollen analysis corroborates the archaeobotanical evidence, suggesting that the pit within which the hoard was placed was dug during the late summer, and was probably located within an arable field.

Radiocarbon dating of the packing material has indicated that the hoard was most likely buried in the post-Roman or Anglo-Saxon period (AD 380-550).

Due to the material of manufacture this hoard does not fit the criteria of the Treasure act. Wiltshire museum, Devizes have expressed an interest in acquiring the hoard.

Richard Henry

Finds Liaison Officer

Wiltshire

Alyson Tanner

Volunteer

Wiltshire

Tom Dawkins

Volunteer

Wiltshire

Contributions from Dr Michael Grant, Dr Pete Marshall and Dr Ruth Pelling,

Find of note status

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

Class: Vessel

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder

Chronology

Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Period from: ROMAN
Period to: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 380
Date to: Circa AD 550

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 8

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 26th October 2014

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Richard Henry
Identified by: Mr Richard Henry
Secondary identifier: Mrs Alyson Tanner

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: South West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: Pewsey

Spatial coordinates


Grid reference source: GPS (From FLO)
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: WILT
Created: Monday 11th May 2015
Updated: Tuesday 7th February 2017

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