Finds tray – Roman bowl

This is an imported Roman bowl, made of copper-alloy, found in Wingham, Kent. The metal-detectorist who discovered the bowl left it in situ and reported it to the local Finds Liaison Officer. This allowed the Canterbury Archaeological Trust to conduct a full excavation, during which they also found two forged-iron bars.

The excavation revealed that the bowl had been placed, inverted, into a pit at about a 45º angle. The handles were found in place, suggesting that the bowl had been buried intact, but on removal it became clear that the soldering had degraded over time and the handles had become detached. No contents were found either during excavation or conservation, but post-excavation analysis did reveal some finer details. The bowl is largely plain except for two slightly raised plain bands running along its exterior, just below the rim. It sits on an integrated pedestal and the handles are of a drop-shape form, with animal heads on each end.

Photo: Kent County Council
Photo: Kent County Council.

At least two similar bowls, also deposited inverted, are known from Kent: one from Palace Street, Canterbury, also found with two iron bars, and a recent find from the beginning of 2020 at Mersham. These two were, however, both utilised as cremation containers. Similar Continental examples are known from Pompeii, Lösnich in Germany, and Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Their presence at Pompeii indicates that they were in circulation before AD 79.

After initial conservation, the bowl has recently gone on display at the Sandwich Guildhall Museum. For more information on this bowl search for KENT-33C787 on the PAS database (

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is an initiative, funded by the DCMS, to encourage the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales. For more information on the Scheme, and to browse its database of over 1.5 million finds, visit Information for this find was provided by Jo Ahmet, Finds Liaison Officer for Kent.

Text: Kathryn Krakowka.