Monday, 24 December 2012

Twas The Night Before Christmas...

As a Christmas Eve treat we have a particular favourite of mine

Image taken from the British Museum
it is of course the Ringlemere Cup, discovered in Ringlemere, Sandwich, Kent.  This Bronze Age cup dates to around 1700-1500BC and is made from sheet metal.  Before damage it would have formed an S shaped vessel, with a rounded bottom; making use rather difficult.  It has a corrugated top and a single handle; the second of its' type in Britain, but one of only 5 known in Europe.  On discovery it was identified through the Portable Antiquities Scheme and has since been declared as Treasure, through the Treasures act; with the finder and land owner splitting the money paid by The British Museum for its' acquisition.

Since discovery a full excavation has taken place around the findspot and a barrow was located by Canterbury Archaeological Trust.  On my last visit Dover Museum had a beautiful display, in the gallery adjacent to the Dover Boat, in relation to the cup.  There is now a replica of the cup in position as the original is in the Prehistory Galleries of The British Museum, but, it is still well worth a look if you are in or around the area.  The cup has been on many journeys since its' discovery in 2001, it made a brief tour of Britain and even made a stop off in Wales! It also found its way in 2006/2007 back home to Kent, where I feel it belongs.

It is often suggested that the cup was placed in the barrow as part of a burial, subsequently the modern plough has taken its' toll and the cup is clearly damaged.  During the excavation CAT found no trace of a burial and as such new theories have emerged; the most popular alluding to a votive deposition.  Hoards and Barrows are well known within Kent, particularly to the East of the county, with my knowledge (unsurprisingly) being related to the lovely Thanet (often seen in the Bronze Age as the Isle of the Dead!).  It therefore seems a plausible notion.  The excavation revealed several Iron Age and Saxon burials in and around the original barrow, thus showing that the area remained a significant one.

Due to the damage visualising the cup in all its' glory can be tricky so I shall leave you with this...

A British Museum Reconstruction
That brings us to the end of our Advent Calender for 2012, I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

I'm going to take the opportunity to thank you all for reading and I hope each and every one of you have a very Merry Christmas!

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