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27.07.2021

Decorated bone spoon

Anglo-Saxon era, early 11th century AD.

Found during archaeological excavations at Westgate Park, Winchester, Hampshire, in 1951, on the site of the court of Queen Elizabeth II.

The spoon has an elongated shallow bowl and simply carved the head of a bird-like animal at the junction with the handle. The tip of the handle is missing. The spoon was carved from a single bone, the radial bone of a cattle or horse. It was found in a domestic waste pit, suggesting daily household use, but the surface is heavily polished and shows no signs of wear, so it may have been virtually new at the time of loss.

The spoon is of the standard late Anglo-Saxon type, but its unusual decoration sets it apart from several Winchester pieces that appear to belong to the same workshop. The double acanthus leaf on the top of the bowl and the single acanthus leaf on the back are based on the high artistic style of the period known as the Winchester Art Style. This spoon shows us that the Winchester style was not only for the rich and powerful, but was also found on everyday objects used by ordinary people.

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