Shrewsbury Museum Reveals Rare Iron Age Spoons

by Caroline Lewis | 01 December 2006
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photo of two aged spoons, one with a cross inscribed on it right from the edges

The strange spoons recently acquired by Shrewsbury Museums Service. © Portable Antiquities Scheme and British Museum

There are only 23 more of them in the world and it's been 80 years since anybody found some before these ones turned up.

What are these rare artefacts? They are mysterious bronze spoons, always found in pairs, dating from 800 BC – 100 AD, and Shrewsbury Museum is the proud owner of the most recently discovered set.

photo of a decorative gold ring

Post-medieval posy ring (1500-1650), found in Rowton Castle area, Shropshire. © Portable Antiquities Scheme and British Museum

Local metal detectorist Trevor Brown found the spoons in mid-Shropshire in 2005, and reported them to the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Archaeologists recognised the spoons as coming from the Iron Age, but what they were used for is uncertain.

One of the spoons is decorated with a carved cross, bearing a circle at the centre, while the other is plain but torn where there was once a perforation. They may have had a ritual or divinatory purpose – perhaps liquid was dripped from one to the other, predicting the future. Or their function could have been more prosaic. Whichever the case, they are enigmatic items.

photo of a ring with a mount for a stone that is missing

Medieval gold finger ring (1200-1350), discovered in Condover area by John Martin. © Portable Antiquities Scheme and British Museum

Declared Treasure, the Shropshire spoons were purchased for Shrewsbury Museums Service and are going on display for the first time from December 1 2006. They can be seen at Shrewsbury Museum until December 22 alongside other recent purchases, donations and loaned items dating from the Iron Age to the 17th century.

Other items on show will include a medieval gold finger ring, a 16th century ‘posy ring’ and an Iron Age toggle.

Peter Reavill, Finds Liaison Officer for Shropshire and Herfordshire, runs regular find identification days at Shrewsbury Museum - contact the Museum for more information if you would like to consult him.

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