The Wiltshire Museum acquired a nationally significant hoard of Roman bronze vessels. Four copper alloy vessels were discovered nested inside one another at Wilcote in 2017. The vessels are fragmented, the bases of three of the four are broken, so they need urgent professional help.
They are so fragile that only experienced restorers can remove them from their packaging, and they are now on display at the Museum thanks to the support of over 40 people who donated to our April 2023 appeal. (…)
Lisa Brown, curator at the Wiltshire Museum, has found that the bronze vessels are fragile and need urgent conservation and cleaning to remove those that have dried on the ground and prepare them for display. Conservation experts, Drakon Heritage and Conservation, have been selected for this incredibly delicate task, after which they will be put on display in the museum, showing how they were placed in the ground 1,600 years ago.
The hoard consists of a symmetrical bowl-shaped sieve with flanges, a bowl with an outwardly flanged edge known as a Bassin Uni, a bordered bowl with a foot ring, and an Irchester bowl. The filter was placed inside a Bassin Uni which was then placed inside a rimmed tank. Finally, three nested vessels were placed inside the Irchester bowl. There is evidence that heather, grasses, or other soft plant materials were used to stuff the vessels and protect them, much like ancient bubble wrap.
The sieve has a round shape with a wide flanged rim. It has a hemispherical perforated sieve in the center. Originally it was a single piece of copper shaped like a sieve bowl, but at some point it was damaged and a curved copper sheet was riveted to the body of the vessel to repair it.
The Bassin Uni is incomplete, but it was well made with a shirred rim and a navel base. It has original hammer marks. The sides are decorated with stripes of chased decor. The base has been torn off over the centuries.
The bordered coxa has a wide rim, tapering towards the product. It was built from two pieces of copper alloy. The perforation at the base of the omphalos indicates that it was made on a lathe. At the base there is a leg ring.
The Irchester bowl has a domed base that flares out just below the rim. The rim has a thick bevelled edge. This type of vessel was made in the 4th and 5th centuries, which gives us an external date for the deposit of the hoard.
The keeled basin is thought to date from the first half of the 2nd century, while the strainer was made in Britain in the 1st century. Judging by the repairs that appear to be on the sieve, archaeologists have concluded that it was in use for a long time before it was finally deposited. Thus both the bowl and strainer were already antiques when they were buried.