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The Canterbury Late Roman Treasure

  • C. M. Johns and T. W. Potter

In 1962, an important hoard of Christian late Roman silver was found at Canterbury and declared Treasure Trove. The assemblage, which dates to the end of the fourth century A.D. or the first decade of the fifth, and includes ingots and inscribed spoons, was published in 1965. In 1982, a spoon appeared on the London antiquities market which on investigation proved to be one of five objects (with two stamped ingots and two siliquae) that had formed part of the 1962 discovery, but had not been declared; they were pronounced Treasure Trove in 1983. This paper is an illustrated catalogue and discussion of all the items now known to constitute the Canterbury treasure. Two further sets of late Roman silver spoons are also catalogued, an unprovenanced group in private hands which displays marked links with the Canterbury treasure, and the Dorchester-on-Thames hoard, found in the late nineteenth century and typologically and chronologically closely related to Canterbury. X-ray fluorescence analyses of all the items have been carried out in the British Museum Research Laboratory, and the results are discussed.

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1 Painter, K. S., ‘A Roman silver treasure from Canterbury’, J.B.A.A. 3rd ser. xxviii (1965). I.

2 Christie's sale, 16th December 1982, lot no. 23.

3 Johns, C. and Potter, T., The Thetford Treasure (London, 1983).

4 Cahn, al., Der spätrömische Silberschatz von Kaiseraugst (Derendingen, 1984). This major work was not available while the present article was in preparation.

5 The spoon is inscribed VOT FEC SATVRN. It is now in the collections of the Prehistoric and Romano-British Department of the British Museum, reg. no. P.1984.1-1.1.

6 The group was briefly published by Potter, T. W. in Antiq.J. lxii (1982), 375.

7 The restoration was carried out by Ian Mclntyre, of the Department of Conservation, British Museum.

8 Painter, K. S., ‘A Roman silver ingot from Kent’, Antiq J. lii (1972), 84; Two Roman silver ingots from Kent’, Arch. Cant, xcvii (1981), 201; A Roman silver ingot’, Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, New Acquisitions, 1, B.M. Occ. Pap. 22 (1981), 21.

9 Painter, 1972, op. cit. (note 8), nos. 30 and 31.

10 Ibid., no. 1.

11 A. M. Burnett and C. M. Johns, ‘The Whorlton Hoard (1810)’, in Carson, R. A. G. and Burnett, A. M., Recent Coin Hoards from Roman Britain, B.M. Occ. Pap. 5 (1979); the Whorlton bar ingot is no. 6 in the catalogue of the find, and is discussed on p. 114.

12 Johns, C. and Carson, R. A. G., ‘The Water Newton Hoard’, Durobrivae, iii (1975), 10. See also Appendix B (p. 27) in Painter, K. S., The Water Newton Early Christian Silver (London, 1977).

13 This point was brought to my notice by Kenneth Painter, and I am grateful for his comments and suggestions.

14 Milojčić, V., ‘Zu den spätkaiserzeitlichen und merowingischen Silberlöffeln‘, Ber. Röm.-Germ. Komm. xlix (1968), III: D. Sherlock. ‘Zu einer Fundliste antiker Silberlöffel’, ibid., liv (1973), 203.

15 See notes 3 and 4.

16 Dalton, O. M., ‘Roman spoons from Dorchester’, Antiq. J. ii (1922), 89.

17 Kent, J. P. C. and Painter, K. S., Wealth of the Roman World (London, 1977), 57, nos. 109–13.

18 Shelton, K., The Esquiline Treasure (London, 1981).

19 Painter, K. S., The Mildenhall Treasure (London, 1977), no. 28.

20 Johns, and Potter, , op. cit. (note 3), 38.

21 Waugh, H., ‘The hoard of Roman silver from Great Horwood, Buckinghamshire’, Antiq.J. xlvi (1966), 60. The Little Horwood spoon, which was found separately but could perhaps be part of the Great Horwood hoard, is discussed and illustrated on pp. 68-70.

22 Milojčić, , op. cit. (note 14); several examples are illustrated in Abb. 7.

23 Burnett, and Johns, , op. cit. (note 11), no. 2, p. 112.

24 Milojčić, , op. cit. (note 14), Abb. 9.

25 Cahn, et al., op. cit. (note 4).

26 There is also a brief general discussion of the type in Johns, and Potter, , op. cit. (note 3), 53–5.

27 Wright, R. P., in J.R.S. liii (1963), 163.

28 Hassall, M. and Tomlin, R., in Britannia, xii (1981), 393.

29 Painter, K. S., The Mildenhall Treasure (London, 1977), nos. 3234.

30 Dalton, , op. cit. (note 16), 90.

31 Clarke, G., The Roman cemetery at Lank-hills (Oxford, 1979).

321 Ibid., 315-16.

33 Ibid., Grave 336, no. 332.

34 R. E. M. and Wheeler, T. V., Report on the Excavation of the Prehistoric, Roman and Post-Roman Site in Lydney Park, Gloucs., Soc. Antiq. London Res. Rep. 9 (Oxford, 1932), fig. 18, nos. 67 and 68.

35 Clarke, , op. cit. (note 31), Grave 183, no. 182.

36 Johns, and Potter, , op. cit. (note 3), no. 31.

37 In the Department of Prehistoric and Romano-British Antiquities, registration no. 1962.11-8.15.

38 Taylor, G. and Scarisbrick, D., Finger Rings from Ancient Egypt to the Present Day (Ashmolean Museum, 1978), no. 209.

39 The list differs in only minor respects from the original list in Painter's article (op. cit. (note 1)). Legible mint-marks have been added and some dates have been refined. The emperors represented on coins 5-7 are not, in my view, clear, but this does not affect their date.

40 Britannia, xv (1984), 163.

41 The analyses of the Dorchester-on-Thames spoons, which are included in table 4, were caried out after this general discussion was written; they are discussed in Appendix II.

42 Cowell, M. R., ‘Energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence analysis of ancient gold coins’,. J. European Study Group on Physical, Chemical & Mathematical Techniques applied to Archaeology (=PACT), I (1977), 76.

43 Hughes, M. J. and Hall, J. A., ‘XRF analysis of late Roman and Sassanian silver plate’, J. Arch. Science, vi (1979), 321.

44 Johns, and Potter, , op. cit. (note 3), 57–8.

45 Cope, L. W., ‘Metallurgical analysis of Roman Imperial silver and aes coinage’, in. Hall, T. and Metcalf, D. M. (eds.), Methods of Chemical and Metallurgical Investigation of Ancient Coinage, Royal Num. Soc. Spec. Pub. 8 (1972), 3.

46 Thomas, C., Christianity in Roman Britain to A.D. 500 (London, 1981), 170 ff.

47 Potter, T. W., Antiq. J. lxii (1982), 375.

48 Proc. Soc. Antiq. London, 2nd ser. v (1870-1873).

49 Dalton, , op. cit. (note 16).

50 Sherlock, , op. cit. (note 14).

51 Painter, , op. cit. (note 1), pl. VI.

52 Kent, and Painter, , op. cit. (note 17), nos. 109–13.

53 Lang, J. and Hughes, M. J., ‘Joining techniques’, in Aspects of Early Metallurgy, B.M. Occ. Pap. 17 (1980).

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