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An Anglo-Saxon Cone Beaker from Faversham

All About Glass

Figure 1. Cone glass beaker from Faversham.
Figure 2. Cone glass beaker from Faversham. (Drawing by Jo-Ann Sharp)

The beaker (Figs. 1 and 2), in the collection of The Corning Museum of Glass, may be described as follows:

Cone beaker [85.1.4]
Probably seventh century
H. 17.6 cm, D. (rim) 8.5 cm.

Transparent yellowish-amber glass with many bubbles. Rim outsplayed, turned inward and downward; body tapers, curving inward at bottom; narrow base; intermittent circular pontil mark. Below rim, horizontal trail with overlapping ends, nicked; below this, six horizontal zigzag trails, irregular, ends overlapping, one trail touching the next to form network of lozenges over most of body.

Intact. Ends of penultimate trail missing. Traces of wear, but no weathering.

The beaker is accompanied by a sheet of paper (Fig. 3), measuring 12.2 cm by 18.0 cm, mounted on cardboard. The sheet is headed "Anglo Saxon Glass Vessel found in excavating 'The Kings' field at Faversham in Kent in 1862." It bears a pencil and watercolor image of the beaker, signed by Wm. Webster Hoare and dated "Feby. 2nd 1878." Below this is the statement, "It was found in the same place and with the other Saxon remains now forming 'The Gibbs' Collection at the South Kensington Museum London." The statement is signed by William P. Hoare F.R.C.S.E.; it, too, is dated "Feby. 2nd 1878." The final figure of the date 1862 may be an addition.

Figure 3

The former owner, who lives in Australia, kindly supplied the information that William Palmer Hoare, his great-grandfather, was a physician at Faversham from 1838 to 1865; William Webster Hoare was his great-uncle. After the death of W. P. Hoare, members of the family emigrated to Australia, taking the beaker with them. Between 1951 and 1984, it was exhibited at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (now the Power House Museum) in Sydney. I conclude, therefore, that the beaker was found in the Anglo-Saxon cemetery, discovered in The King's Field, Faversham, during railway construction in 1860.1

The beaker belongs to Harden's group III.b.i. Only one other example, also of amber glass and with a circular pontil mark, appears to be known. This, too, was found in The King's Field; it entered the Gibbs Collection and is now in the British Museum (accession no. 1319–70).2

Faversham was the site of a vill of the kings of Kent, and the distribution of Kentish polychrome jewelry suggests strongly that it was made here. The relative abundance of fifth- to seventh-centmy glass vessels from Kent in general and The King's Field in particular suggests that glass, too, may have been made at Faversham.3 If so, the two beakers of group III.b.i are strong candidates for consideration as local products.

This article was published in the Journal of Glass Studies, Vol. 28 (1986), 120–122.

1. C. Roach Smith, A Catalogue of Anglo-Saxon and Other Antiquities discovered at Faversham, in Kent..., London, 1871, p. iii.

2. Ibid., p. 19: "Drinking Cup, portions of. Olive colour, footless, covered externally with a kind of network pattern, surmounted by a broad irregular band. H. 5 ½ in.; diam. at top, 4 in." D. B. Harden, "Glass Vessels in Britain and Ireland, A.D. 400–1000," in D. B. Harden (ed.), Dark Age Britain, London, 1956, pp. 132–167, especially 140 and 159.

3. Harden, pp. 146–147. For circular pontil marks on seventh-century vessels from southeastern England, see M. Bimson, "Ring 'Pontil Marks' and the Empontiling of a Group of Seventh-Century Anglo-Saxon Glass,"Joumal of Glass Studies, v. 22, 1980, pp. 9–11.

Published on April 2, 2013