OXON-E714D3: Roman assemblage: Vessel repair patch

Rights Holder: Oxfordshire County Council
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Rights Holder: Oxfordshire County Council
CC License:

Rights Holder: Oxfordshire County Council
CC License:

Rights Holder: Oxfordshire County Council
CC License:

Rights Holder: Oxfordshire County Council
CC License:

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Unique ID: OXON-E714D3

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

An incomplete sheet copper alloy Roman vessel and associated finds, probably dating to the late fourth century AD.

The vessel is made from a thin sheet of copper alloy and is plain and undecorated. It would have been circular in plan and may have been a shallow bowl, platter or basin as its thinness suggests a large vessel (such as a cauldron or large globular vessel) may not have been viable. The base of the vessel has two raised circumferential ridges which may suggest it was initially formed on a lathe, and there is a rivet in the centre of the base (again possible evidence of lathe manufacture), however no linear lathe marks are visible externally. The platter survives as two large pieces and numerous smaller fragments. The underside of the platter appears to have sooting, possibly evidence of use on a fire but also possibly the remains of organic material that may have been beneath the platter in situ. Platter weight: 138.3 grams, base diameter: c. 89mm, surviving gross diameter: 260mm. Thickness of sheet metal: 0.5 - 1mm.

Twelve fragments of rim were recovered in association with the above vessel. The rim is of sheet copper alloy which is marginally thicker than the upper wall of the vessel (0.7mm thick). The rim is slightly curved downwards away from the inside of the vessel, which may indicate that these fragments are from the platter recorded above; the sheet copper alloy rim has been reinforced with iron both above and below the rim's lip. Combined weight: 116.8 grams. The external diameter of the rim can be estimated using a rim chart: including the iron the diameter of the rim would have been c. 380mm.

A sheet copper alloy repair patch was found in association with the platter. The patch is trapezoidal in plan and slightly curved. There are 19 (out of 20) rivets surviving and situated equidistantly around the outer edges of the patch. The rivets are of rolled copper alloy. The patch was placed on the internal wall of a vessel as the original vessel's wall is retained on the external, convex side of the patch. The rivets secured the patch to the original vessel. Both sides of the rivets have been hammered flat. The patch displays sooting / organic remains on its underside and it seems likely that the patch was a repair for the above platter, although where it was located on the vessel cannot be ascertained. Repair patch weight: 30.5 grams. maximum width: 114.7mm, maximum length: 78.2mm. Maximum thickness of patch: 0.6mm. Rivet thickness: 2.85mm.

An incomplete Roman grey ware ceramic vessel was found in association with the above. It is estimated maybe a fifth of the vessel survives. Part of the rim survives as do several body sherds. The rim is everted, the neck of the vessel narrows before flaring outwards presumably into a globular form. Three of the body sherds are decorated with a simple raised linear rib running circumferentially around the vessel. The vessel had a gross external rim diameter of 90mm. Suggested date: AD 120-350.

A Roman ceramic rim sherd of a grey-ware vessel. Partially oxidised. 43.1mm long, 25.7mm deep, 10.3 grams. C. AD 100-410. A body sherd of a Roman ceramic vessel, possibly a Nene Valley type fabric. Grey internally, orange and light brown / buff externally. C. AD 150-410.

Remains of an animal long bone, possibly sheep. 80 grams. Uncertain association with assemblage.
Two snail shells (white banded snails?). Uncertain association with assemblage.

The probable bowl is similar in form to Late Roman / early Saxon period 'Irchester bowls'. The thin sheet metal construction, the inward curving sides and out-turned rim are all characteristics of Irchester bowls, which are generally accepted to have been hanging basins manufactured in the 4th or 5th centuries in Britain although still circulating in the early Anglo-Saxon period. The uniformity of the design suggests that the vessels were a product of one or more centralised or associated workshops, and that they were used as part of a dinner service or perhaps for hand washing. Examples from elsewhere in the south of Britain include Amersham, Buckinghamshire; Drapers Garden, London; Wotton, Surrey; Pewsey; Wiltshire, Pewsey (Stanchester); Wiltshire, and, Bishops Canning, Wiltshire.
Local parallels include two bronze bowls found at Sutton Courtenay (Miles 1976:70-76). These are thin sheet copper alloy vessels with slightly curved bases, straight sides and out-turned rims, with diameters between 230-265mm. Although the Chalgrove bowl does not appear to have had straight sides from what remains, and it is possible that the rim was reinforced with iron, the Sutton Courtenay and Chalgrove bowls do share similarities. The thickness of the metal of all bowls is between 0.3-1mm. The plug in the centre of the Chalgrove bowl is seen in Bowl 2 from Sutton Courtenay but in that instance Miles suggests this is the result of using a compass to make out the elements of the vessel rather than being evidence for lathe spinning (Miles 1976:73). On the Chalgrove example the central plug is accompanied by two raised concentric ribs on the base of the vessel, which does seem to suggest at least some lathe spinning. There are no visible hammer marks on the Chalgrove bowl unlike on the Sutton Courtenay bowls.
Roman sheet copper alloy vessels are known in grave deposits and appear in hoards of nested vessels (see for example the Pewsey and Wilcot hoards, both from Wiltshire and recorded on this database as WILT-0F898C and WILT-047110 respectively). The reinforced iron rim is probably from the possible Irchester bowl. Examples of reinforced iron rims on copper alloy cauldrons are known (from Welshpool Boon 1961:13-31) and also in the Pewsey hoard mentioned above. I have not been able to find a comparable example on Irchester bowls.
The broken ceramic grey-ware vessel found in association with the Chalgrove bowl dates the assemblage to c. AD 120-410), but if the vessel is an Irchester bowl than this date can be revised to c. 350-410, placing the deposit in the Late Roman period. The other objects found apparently in association with the bowl date to a similar period - interestingly if the vessel repair had been found in isolation it most likely would have been dated to the Medieval period.

In conclusion it appears that the metal and ceramic vessels formed part of a Late Roman assemblage, possibly a grave (inhumation or cremation) assemblage however the findpsot was not investigated further.

Find of note status

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

Class: Vessel
Sub class: Irchester

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: MRC
Subsequent action after recording: Undergoing further examination at a museum


Broad period: ROMAN
Period from: ROMAN
Period to: ROMAN
Date from: Circa AD 350
Date to: Circa AD 410

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 9

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 30th October 2011

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Miss Anni Byard
Identified by: Miss Anni Byard

Other reference numbers

Other reference: OXPAS2018.391

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Secondary material: Ceramic
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Oxfordshire (County)
District: South Oxfordshire (District)
Parish or ward: Chalgrove (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SU6496
Four figure Latitude: 51.65914989
Four figure longitude: -1.07616875
1:25K map: SU6496
1:10K map: SU69NW
Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: MRC
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: OXON
Created: 8 months ago
Updated: 8 months ago

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