Collection online

mount / drinking-horn

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1853,1013.3

  • Description

    Cast copper alloy drinking-horn terminal mount in form of a bird-like animal head with long 'beak'. The socket tapers internally and externally and is decorated by a banded collar and pair of grooves. It has two rivet holes in the rim. The socket supports a round head with a huge chamfered snout, open along the middle and ending in a knob with a spiral scroll. The toucan-like jaws were originally joined by teeth along part of their length. The eyes of this 'bird' are stylised in a human shape. Two running spirals decorate each rounded cheek and neat, conical punch marks run around the cheeks from upper to lower 'beak' and also along the top and bottom of the 'beak'. The abraded surface shows no evidence now of gilding.

    More 

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 7thC-8thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 9 centimetres
    • Diameter: 1.5 centimetres (external socket)
  • Curator's comments

    Youngs 1989a
    This handsome stylised fitting for the end of a drinking horn is of a type derived from Anglo-Saxon mounts dating from the early seventh century and recovered from aristocratic burials such as those at Sutton Hoo and Taplow. The bird-headed terminals of these silver Saxon mounts have here become a toothed beast in copper-alloy, and some later Irish horn terminals retain this reptilian style (Henry 1965b, 58-61, pl. 6a), while the Moynagh Lough example is an eared animal whose 'beak' is a long tongue (John Bradley, ML 1984:433). Finds from ninth-century and later Viking graves in Norway show that the zoomorphic terminal remained popular alongside a knobbed form (Petersen, J. 1940. ‘Viking Antiquities in Great Britain and Ireland’, ed. H. Shetelig, ‘Part V British Antiquities of the Viking Period, found in Norway, Oslo’, 53, 57, 71, 73; Ó Ríordían, S.P. 1949. Lough Gur excavations: Carraig Aille and the “Spectacles” ‘Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy’ 51c, 64-7).
    The terminal decorated an important piece of household equipment in a society where feasting and formal entertainment played a major part. The seventh-century heroic British poem ‘Gododdin’ refers frequently to feasting the warbands and to the use of drinking horns for mead and wine (Jackson, K.H. 1969. ‘The Gododdin. The Oldest Scottish Poem’, Edinburgh).

    Date given as 8th century.

    Bibliography: Mac Dermott, M. The journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 1950 LXXX p.262. The Kells Crozier, ‘Archaeologia’ 96, 59-113; Henry, F. 1965b. On some early Christian objects in the Ulster Museum, ‘Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland’ 95, 59.

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Marzinzik 2013 146 bibliographic details
    • Youngs 1989a 53 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G41/dc16/sC

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:
    2009 14 Mar-1 Nov, Suffolk, Sutton Hoo Visitor Centre, Welcome to the Feast
    1990-1991 Oct-Feb, Edinburgh, Royal Museum of Scotland, The Work of Angels: Masterpieces of Irish Metalwork
    1990 7 May-30 Sep, Dublin, National Museum of Ireland, The Work of Angels: Masterpieces of Irish Metalwork
    1989-1990 29 Nov-29 Apr, London, British Museum, The Work of Angels: Masterpieces of Irish Metalwork
    1977 London, BM, Animals in Art

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1853

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1853,1013.3

Copper alloy drinking-horn terminal mount in form of a bird head with long beak. Copper-alloy casting, the socket tapered internally and externally, decorated by a banded collar and pair of grooves. It has two rivet holes in the rim. The socket supports a round head with a huge chamfered snout, open along the middle and ending in a knob with a spiral scroll. The toucan-like jaws were originally joined by teeth along part of their length. The eyes of this 'bird' are stylised in a human shape. Two running spirals decorate each rounded cheek, and neat, conical punch marks run around the cheeks from upper to lower 'beak' and also along the top and bottom of the beak. The abraded surface shows no evidence now of gilding.

Side

Copper alloy drinking-horn terminal mount in form of a bird head with long beak. Copper-alloy casting, the socket tapered internally and externally, decorated by a banded collar and pair of grooves. It has two rivet holes in the rim. The socket supports a round head with a huge chamfered snout, open along the middle and ending in a knob with a spiral scroll. The toucan-like jaws were originally joined by teeth along part of their length. The eyes of this 'bird' are stylised in a human shape. Two running spirals decorate each rounded cheek, and neat, conical punch marks run around the cheeks from upper to lower 'beak' and also along the top and bottom of the beak. The abraded surface shows no evidence now of gilding.

Image description

Recommend


Feedback

If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: MCS6728

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 

Supporters

Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help  

Loading...