KENT-BBE22E: Iron Age Mortar

Rights Holder: Kent County Council
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Unique ID: KENT-BBE22E

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

A cast copper-alloy late Iron Age to Roman, end-looped, zoomorphic cosmetic mortar, Type A (Jackson 2010:7) dating to 100 BC-AD 300.

Description: This is a bovid-headed mortar with end-loop positioned beneath the terminal. The terminal is in the form of a bovine head with upright horns/ears and tapered, blunt-ended muzzle with grooved mouth. The elliptical bow has an angular keel, steep convex walls, incuse and a U-sectioned groove. There is some outer decoration, but it is obscured by wear, possibly a diagonal line or two diagonal lines forming a diamond pattern along each side. The loop lies beneath the end of the bow. It was probably intended to give the appearance of both of the beast's folded tail and of the stylized head of a water bird like a swan. The base of the bow has a round knop, which does not appear to be a broken or worn loop. The patination is extensive going from dark-grey green to light green with extensive dirt adding to the obscuration of detail by the dirt.

Measurements: 86.6mm long, 14.81mm wide (at head, bowl widest 12mm), 18.33mm high and 48.64g in weight.

Discussion: This mortar is of a type discussed by Jackson (2010, 21) who writes "Many of the zoomorphic mortar terminals feature sensitive modelling, acute stylisation, exuberance and ambiguity and they can often be closely paralleled by other metalwork examples from the 'Celtic zoo' of the 1st century BC/ 1st century AD- bulls, cattle, rams, sheep, horses, stags, hinds, boars, dogs, hares, geese, swans, water-birds, crested and uncrested ducks, predatory birds, griffons and monsters. End-looped mortars had only one free terminal available for plastic decoration in the round, although the loop itself was often elaborated into a stylized bird's head (Figs 6-7)."

Jackson (2010:26) later writes "The wide diversity in form and almost infinite variety of decoration of cosmetic sets is perhaps to be accounted for by their personal nature - kits associated with self-presentation - and by the possibility that they were used by a broad social group. Significantly, as Nina Crummy has observed (in litt.), a similar diversity and inventiveness is exhibited by two other related types of personalia, British brooches and nail-cleaners. Of course, any attempt at a retrospective gauging of the relative value of cosmetic sets would be invidious, but purely in terms of size, quantity of metal and expenditure of time in manufacture they appear to represent a fairly wide spectrum, from small and rudimentary ('inexpensive') to large and elaborate ('higher status') examples. However, as this examination of the decoration has indicated, the choice of form and decor appears to have gone well beyond purely 'monetary', functional and aesthetic considerations into areas of identity and well-being - characterising, protecting and empowering the individual - and emphasizes the insular and late Iron Age origins and traditions that inspired the makers of cosmetic sets and those who used them."

Of those mortars discussed by Jackson (2010, 118) No.192 is particular similar, although not a common find reported to the PAS, LON-377569 is also very similar to this example.

Find of note status

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

Class: End-looped; zoomorphic
Sub class: Type A

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


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

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 86.6 mm
Height: 48.64 mm
Width: 14.81 mm
Weight: 48.64 g

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Jo Ahmet
Identified by: Mr Jo Ahmet

Materials and construction

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

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Kent (County)
District: Dover (District)
Parish or ward: Preston (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: TR2561
Four figure Latitude: 51.30362649
Four figure longitude: 1.22651956
1:25K map: TR2561
1:10K map: TR26SE
Grid reference source: Generated from computer mapping software
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: KENT
Created: 4 months ago
Updated: 4 months ago

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