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Home > Auctions > 7th September 2021 > 'The Scotch Corner' Anglo-Saxon Hanging Bowl Mounts and Bowl

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LOT 0474

Estimate
GBP (£) 6,000 - 8,000
EUR (€) 7,050 - 9,400
USD ($) 8,360 - 11,150

Bid History: 3   |   Current bid: £6,500

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Bid History: 3   |   Current bid: £6,500

'The Scotch Corner' Anglo-Saxon Hanging Bowl Mounts and Bowl

6th-8th century AD

An Anglo-Saxon hanging bowl with Romano-British design elements; unusually complete (approximately 70-80% intact) sheet-bronze hemispherical hanging bowl of Bruce-Mitford's type ‘C’ with the rim complete and the bowl's sidewall fragmentary with basal ring and basal mount; the three zoomorphic escutcheons each with an attachment ring; together with fragments of a second circular rim and a fragment of bone; the group comprises:
the bowl frame: a sheet-bronze rim with circumferential C-section neck, flat everted rim and partial remains of bowl sidewall with curved profile; the rim frame is apparently complete, albeit with a single horizontal break; also present is one large fragment of upper bowl wall, the top edge relatively flat and coterminous with a section of the rim, the lower edge with a ragged profile; accompanied by a group of four smaller bowl wall fragments;
the base: an approximately circular base with slightly dished profile; the interior face with a central circular scar and remains of tinning; exterior with step between base and lower wall; central piercing and circular scar from mount; remains of tinning;
the two-part basal mount: a basal collar with concave outer wall, the convex and carinated inner wall decorated with a dense series of incised geometric patterns consisting of alternating panels of cross hatching, vertical lines and chevrons; a discoid mount with central knop to the reverse which fits into the central piercing on the bowl's base; decorative element comprising a palmette-armed cross within roundel, four enamelled circles at the terminals of two of the arms; a second palmette between each arm; central enamelled rectangle with convex sides; bisecting and dashed lines around;
three suspension rings: three sub-oval-section rings with circumferential median groove; one ring with three groups of two dashed grooves to both faces; faint remains of the same pattern on a second ring;
the escutcheons: three almost identical zoomorphic ‘hook’ escutcheons: (1) complete, with openwork discoid body and animal-head hook; body with La Tène style designs, penannular border housing two teardrop-shaped motifs at the shoulders with hatching, concentric tear-drops within, openwork pelta-sided triangles and semi-circular openwork voids between, two roundels below with beaded borders and central triskele with remains of enamelling, again with openwork pelta-sided triangles above and below; domed collar supporting an animal-head hook with erect ears, pellet eyes and tapering snout, remains of enamelled lozenge on the animal’s neck; remains of tinning; (2) also complete with almost identical decorative motifs (variations in the details of enamelling and tinning); (3) (repaired) with very small fragments absent, minor variations in the design motifs, e.g. hatching rather than pellets to the bottom right roundel and style of the triskele arms, and variations in enamelling and tinning; elements of the decorative motifs on these escutcheons recall c.4th-5th century BC La Tène style;
the second frame: six shallow u-section fragments of varying lengths and curving profile, once part of a second circular frame; remains of soldering to one face;
the bone fragment: tapering V-section fragment found in association with the bronze ensemble. 560 grams total, 51-68mm without rings; plus the remains of the bowl (2 - 2 3/4"). Mounts: very fine condition, one repaired; plus remains of the bowl. Rare.

Provenance
Found while searching with a metal detector by Daniel Watts and Jonathan Dent near Scotch Corner, North Yorkshire, UK; accompanied by a copy of the Portable Antiquities Scheme report number DUR-24F5CC, and a specialist report by Stephen Pollington; this lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate number no.10846-177998.

Published
Recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme under report number DUR-24F5CC.

Literature
Cf. Farley, J. & Hunter, F., Celts Art and Identity, London, 2015, item 162, for similar bowl profile; see Pollington, S., Kerr, L. & Hammond, B. Wayland's Work: Anglo-Saxon Art, Myth & Material Culture from the 4th to 7th century, Ely, 2010, pp.279-80, for discussion relevant to dating and use; see archaeological reconstructions of the royal burial at Prittlewell, Southend-On-Sea, England, for an artist’s reconstruction of a burial chamber with a hanging bowl on the wall; see Bruce-Mitford, R.L.S., A Corpus of late Celtic hanging-bowls: with an account of the bowls found in Scandinavia, OUP, 2005; see Geake, H., When were Hanging Bowls Deposited in Anglo-Saxon Graves? in Medieval Archaeology vol. 43, pp.1-18; see The British Museum collection, accession no.939,1010.110, for a very similar basal collar, dated late 6th-early 7th century AD, excavated at Sutton Hoo burial site; ibid for the same bowl profile with the integral folded rim; see museum number 1967,1004.1, for a 7th-8th century AD bowl of the same profile, found Lullingstone, Kent; see The Portable Antiquities Scheme Database, record id. YORYM-05D224, for similar rings dated c.400-c.700 AD; see The Portable Antiquities Scheme, record id. SUSS-F9E7AA, for a similar escutcheon dated 500-700 AD; see The British Museum., Celts, London, 1996, pp.10-11, for an openwork harness disc with very similar 'triskele' motifs; see Laing, J., and Laing, L., Art of the Celts, Thames and Hudson, 1992, item 51, for a similar animal head, particularly the ear, dated early 4th century BC; see Ryan, M. ed., Ireland and Insular Art, Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, 2002, p.35, item b, for the Chesterton-on-Fosseway escutcheon with a similar cross with palmette terminals (basal mount); other broadly comparable examples of hanging bowls include: The Wilton Bowl (Salisbury Museum); The Winchester hanging bowl, held by the Hampshire Cultural Trust, object number HMCMS:A2007.31.1; The Bagington cemetery hanging bowl, which housed a cremation burial, held by Herbert Art Gallery and Museum; see The Portable Antiquities Scheme, record id. YORYM-6FF21D, for a comparable hanging bowl ensemble.

Footnotes
Bowls with similar openwork escutcheons are all ‘A’ type bowls with thickened rims, but this bowl is a ‘C’ type bowl, with concave curve below folded-back rim, and frameless mounts where the hook is cast in one piece with the escutcheon. Bruce-Mitford interpreted ‘C’ bowls as being 7th-century in date (2005, 36).
Each escutcheon’s animal-head was hooked over the rim of the bowl, securing its accompanying ring between the concave bowl neck and the concave underside of the animal head. The loops could be positioned to protrude above the rim of the bowl, or could be rotated to rest on the collar at the base of the animal head. The underside of each animal-head muzzle (believed by the Portable Antiquities Scheme to represent dog’s heads) is flat and shaped to accommodate the profile of the rim of the bowl.
A specialised luxury vessel with Roman origins, the production and use of hanging bowls continued into the early medieval period in Britain. However, the precise purpose(s) and location(s) of their manufacture and cultural influences on their designs remains contested. The majority of hanging bowl finds have been dated to the 7th century AD, with none securely dated prior to 600 AD. They are to be placed within the context of trade and diplomatic connections between the royal courts of Britain and beyond.
It has been argued that many (or even most) hanging bowls were manufactured in the territory which is now Scotland; debris from the production process has been unearthed at a site in Inverness, although the only direct evidence for manufacture thus far unearthed comes from ‘Pictland’, north of Aberdeen. Conversely, the majority of (known) hanging bowl finds are recorded at sites farther south - mainly in Kent and East Anglia - and may well have been manufactured by the Anglo-Saxons; the enamelling and metalworking technology deployed in the creation of these bowls was in fact known to the Anglo-Saxons of the east Midlands and East Anglia, and also existed in Ireland by the 6th or 7th century. The wide geographical spread and relatively common occurrence of hanging bowl-related finds strongly suggests multiple centres of production.
Hanging bowls were often deployed as burial furnishings in contexts dating them to the 6th-7th centuries, and are found in graves of both male and female individuals. Dr Helen Geake posits their use in burial contexts as indicative of ‘...Romanitas in the grave...with an eye on the Roman church or the kings trying to create imperium...’ therefore signalling transitioning cultural identities in the 7th century. This would be in marked contrast to grave goods characterised by Germanic influences in the post-Roman years of the 5th-6th centuries.
Escutcheons without associated bowls are a more frequent find in the archaeological record than complete hanging bowls, suggesting that they were once a fixture of Anglo-Saxon halls, rather than exclusively used as grave deposits. Their purpose has been the object of much speculation but without firm conclusions. Some were evidently suspended from chains, others sat on tripod stands. They appear to have been intended for liquids rather than foodstuffs, possibly intended to be served at feasts, or for holding water for ritual washing prior to sitting at the symbel, - the ceremonial consumption of strong drink - or for Christian liturgical purposes. Interestingly, a number of hanging bowls were seemingly 'stabbed' with a knife prior to their ritual deposition into a grave.