This copper-alloy Roman vessel mount, produced sometime between AD 43 and AD 410, was found last year by a metal-detectorist on farmland near St Ives, Cornwall. The c.4.5cm-tall mount, most likely for a tripod, may once have supported some kind of vessel or tabletop in conjunction with two other mounts, now lost.
The anthropomorphic fitting, which looks Celtic in design, depicts a woman with an oval head, almond-shaped eyes, and a straight, triangular nose. Thin, incised lines have been used to indicate eyebrows and a mouth, with smaller marks added for ears. Two raised bumps, indicative of breasts, are visible on the woman’s chest, though no arms are present beneath the shoulders. The object is hollow and appears to be broken towards the base.
The woman is shown wearing her hair in a bun, with plaits running around the top of her head, which might provide further clues to the object’s date. Martin Henig, Emeritus Professor in the Faculty of Classics at the University of Oxford and an expert in Romano-British art and sculpture, has suggested a 3rd-century date, due to the fact that comparable hairstyles can be found in artwork from this period and on contemporary coins. The subject of the mount remains unknown, however: does it represent a specific high-status individual, a goddess, or perhaps just a generic female figure?
A hole is visible on the reverse of the bust, which would once have been attached to an L-shaped hook (also lost). This may have been used to help suspend a metal object; the mount has a dark green patina with areas of orange, which indicates that it may previously have been in contact with an item made of iron.
For more information on this find, see https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/1038800 or search for CORN-32866D on the PAS database.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme is an initiative to encourage the 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 www.finds.org.uk. Information for this find was provided by Tasha Fullbrook, Finds Liaison Officer for Cornwall, based at the Museum of Cornish Life in Helston.