Record

Eight silver bowls

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from St Ninian's Isle, Dunrossness, Shetland

Postcard of Eight silver bowls.
000-100-036-416-C
© National Museums Scotland

Eight silver bowls

These eight silver bowls were found in a hoard containing 28 silver objects and part of a porpoise's jaw, buried in a ruined chapel on St Ninian's Isle, at Dunrossness, on Shetland between 750 and 825. The objects probably belonged to a Pictish chief.

Seven of the bowls are tableware, perhaps for drinking. The eighth is a hanging bowl. Two bowls have enamelled gilt mounts. The sides and bases of the bowls are ornamented, mainly using punched dots to outline or fill in backgrounds.

The metalwork found in the St Ninian's Isle treasure shows the skill and accomplishment of Pictish craftsmen. The use of dotted backgrounds and some of the animal decoration are distinctive Pictish artistic traits.


Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-036-416-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.FC 275
Date: 8th century
8th century
8th century
8th century
8th century
Between 750 and 825
Material: Basal depression; wide interlaced bands, dot outline and dotted background on upper zone; single line of interlaced dots on lower zone; dotted whirl pattern on base
Shallow; flat base; decorated by lines of dots; upper zone has T-shaped panels alternately inverted; lower zone has radiating ovals; base outlined and divided into four panels, each filled with an angular spiral
Silver, deeply countersunk base, patterned silver disc underneath; circular cast gilt escutcheon of processional animals inside; three oblong boar-shaped gilt escutcheons outside, heads overlapping rim, holding three loose rings; no inset on centre boss
Silver; basal depression; lines of dots form pendant triangles on upper zone, interlace on middle and a key pattern on the lower zone; inside base an applied triangular escutcheon, gilded human faces at corners, cast openwork interlace in three panels in
Silver; hemispherical; decorated by chased lines outlined with dots; five intersecting circles forming an equal arm cross on the base; a line along the upper edge of the design forming pendant circles inside each of the four circles round the sides
Silver; with deep basal depression; decorated with 4 pairs of grotesque animals facing each other, bodies interlocked; background finely dotted; 3 branches ending in dots alternately inverted and linked by chevron line; marigold pattern on base
Silver; with shallow basal depression; half badly corroded; decorated by dotted lines in 3 zones; single line interlace above; double line interlace in centre; row of triangles below; a cross divides base into 4 panels, each with double line knot
With deep basal depression; decorated with a procession of four contorted animals on a dotted background; Greek key pattern of dotted lines in narrow zone below; base filled with four panels of interlaced dotted lines
Dimensions: 5.10" D x 1.40" deep
5.50" D x 1.75" deep
5.60" D x 1.40" deep
5.70" D x 1.60" deep
5.75" approx D x 1.60" deep
5.75" D x 1.90" deep
5.80" D x 1.30" deep
5.90" D x 2.25" deep
What: Bowl
Bowl
Bowl
Bowl
Bowl
Bowl
Bowl
Bowl, hanging
Subject:
Who:
Where: Scotland, Shetland, St Ninian's Isle
Scotland, Shetland, St Ninian's Isle
Scotland, Shetland, St Ninian's Isle
Scotland, Shetland, St Ninian's Isle
Scotland, Shetland, St Ninian's Isle
Scotland, Shetland, St Ninian's Isle
Scotland, Shetland, St Ninian's Isle
Scotland, Shetland, St Ninian's Isle
Event:
Description: Hemispherical bowl of silver, decorated with chased lines outlined with dots, from St Ninian's Isle, Pictish, 8th century
Bowl with deep basal depression, decorated with a procession of four contorted animals on a dotted background, from St Ninian's Isle, Shetland
Bowl of silver, decorated with four pairs of grotesque animals, interlocking, from St Ninian's Isle, Pictish, 8th century
Bowl of silver decorated with dotted lines, from St Ninian's Isle, Pictish, 8th century
Shallow bowl with a flat base, decorated with lines of dots, the upper zone with T-shaped panels alternately inverted, the lower zone of radiating ovals, from St Ninian's Isle, Shetland
Bowl of silver decorated with lines of dots and gilded human faces, from St Ninian's Isle, Pictish, 8th century
Bowl with basal depression, the upper zone with wide interlaced bands, dot outline and dotted background, a dotted whirl pattern on base, from St Ninian's Isle, Shetland
Hanging bowl of silver with three oblong gilt escutcheons in the form of spreadeagled boars, from St Ninian's Isle, Pictish, 8th century
References:
  • Small, A., Thomas, C., and Wilson, D.M. St. Ninian's Isle and its treasure. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973, vol. 1, pp 46-57, 106-12. 
  • Youngs, Susan (ed). 'The Work of Angels'. Masterpieces of Celtic metalwork, 6th-9th centuries AD. London: British Museums Publications Ltd, 1989, pp. 108-9. 
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