LON-915A31: An incomplete North Italian Marbled (marmorizzata) bichrome lion headed baluster shaped costrel (fiascha da viaggio), dating from AD1600-1650.

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Unique ID: LON-915A31

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

An incomplete North Italian Marbled (marmorizzata) bichrome lion headed baluster shaped costrel (fiascha da viaggio), dating from AD1600-1650. The remaining costrel consists of neck and top half of the body this constitutes approximately half of the original vessel. The vessel has a thick flanged rim and tapering neck which swells into a near spherical 'bulb' shaped body. Two diametrically opposed lion head lugs are attached just below the neck of the costrel where the body of the vessel swells. The fabric of vessel is a fine pale red earthenware, the exterior has a red and white bichrome slip which is then glazed, the interior is glazed. The vessel was recovered in three pieces which have been glued together by the finder.

A similar costrel can be seen in Hurst, Neal and van Beuningenm (1986:37 Fig.15) and Blake (1981:109 Plate 8.VI). The British Museum has similar costrels in its collection, Museum No.1855,0512.11, 1887,0210.88 and 1896,0201.51.

Dimensions: length: 150.28mm; width: 117.14mm; weight: 245g

Other lion headed costrels on the database are LON-D5B6F8, LON-9ABEE5 and PUBLIC-799B2B.

Moore Valeri (2013:12) writes "Starting in the last quarter of the 16th century, marbleized pottery also became an important export. In relation to this, it is curious to observe that the first and most precisely dated finds of Tuscan marbleized pottery occurred in Great Britain - more than 50 different sites - and even in the British colony of Virginia in North America, in a context dated 1620- 1640 (Hurst et al 1986, 33) - and in Holland where it has been identified in numerous contexts dated from 1575 to 1650 (ibid 33-37; Baart 1985, 161-186, gs.24- 25). These finds consist of simple bowls and basins with a curled rim and a particular type of pilgrim's flask with four loops on the sides that British scholars call lion-headed costrels (Hurst et al 1986, 37, Berti 1997, 376, Tipo Cc 2 and g. 33/4) (Figure 2)."

Blake (1981:105) writes "So far few marbled closed forms have been found in north Tuscany and Liguria. Wide costrels like one found at Southampton may have come from Lombardy (Platt and Coleman-Smith, 1975; 181 no. 1364) (Figs. 8.4, 8.5(1); Plates 8.III-IV). The narrow costrels covered with a red-brown slip, which have been found by chance in many British towns, have as yet no close parallel in Italy (Figure 8. 6; Plate 8. VI)."

Moore Valeri (2013:25) writes "It has been stated that the red and white marbleized ware was obtained by pouring a white slip directly on to the bare surface of the unfired vessel (Berti 1989, 161). This is not true and numerous experiments conducted with a professional potter have demonstrated that it is not possible to make marbleized pottery this way. In order to create the marbling effect the potter must pour the slips (both red and white in this case) onto a surface that has been covered with a red slip (barbottina) that is still wet. This is necessary because of a particular technical aspect which, for the creation of a marbling effect, requires that the vessel be wet and the slips quite fluid so that they can run across the surface to be decorated. If the surface is too dry, instead of flowing across the vessel, the slips will condense and be immediately absorbed by the porous surface of the earthenware, thus creating spots and blotches rather than the smooth, flowing lines characteristic of marble, agate and the other semi-precious stones." She continues "Like maiolica and like most of the other types of slipware, marbleized pottery required two firings. Except for a few mould made shapes from Montelupo, mentioned previously, the vessel was thrown on a wheel (some of the more complex shapes from Montelupo may have been made using both techniques). When it was dry, it was covered with slip, red or white depending on the type, and then the other coloured slips were poured on it and made to flow across the surface by means of the rapid rotating motions, back and forth, left and right, made by the potter who was holding the vessel in his hands. When the decoration was completed, the vessel was fired for the first time; after the first firing it was entirely covered with a transparent lead glaze and fired for a second time. In some cases, this glaze is completely colourless, while in others it tends to be quite yellow so that the white slip underneath it appears as a creamy ivory colour."

References: Moore Valeri A., 2013. Marbleized Pottery in Tuscany (1550-1650). Medieval Ceramics, 33, 10-26.

Hurst, J. G., Neal, D. S. and van Beuningen, H.J.E. 1986. Pottery produced and traded in North-West Europe 1350-1650. Rotterdam papers six.

Blake, H. 1981. Pottery Exported from Northwest Italy between 1450 and 1830: Savona, Albisola, Genoa, Pisa and Montelupo, Archaeology and Italian Society: Prehistoric Roman and Medieval Studies, G. Baker & R. Hodges, editors, British Archaeological Reports International Series, CII (1981), 99-124.

Platt, C. and Coleman-Smith, R., 1975. Excavations in Medieval Southampton 1953-1969. 2. The Finds. Leicester, University Press.

Class: North Italian Marbled
Sub class: Lion-headed costrel

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: POST MEDIEVAL
Period from: POST MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1600
Date to: Circa AD 1650

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 150.28 mm
Width: 117.14 mm
Weight: 245 g

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Stuart Wyatt
Identified by: Mr Stuart Wyatt

Materials and construction

Primary material: Ceramic
Manufacture method: Wheel made
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: London (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Greater London Authority (Greater London Authority)
District: Southwark (London Borough)
Parish or ward: Surrey Docks (London Borough Ward)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: TQ3679
Four figure Latitude: 51.49359401
Four figure longitude: -0.04234424
1:25K map: TQ3679
1:10K map: TQ37NE
Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Fieldwalking
General landuse: Open fresh water
Specific landuse: Running water

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: LON
Created: About one year ago
Updated: About one year ago

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