Silver bowl

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From St Ninian's Isle, Dunrossness, Shetland

Postcard of Silver bowl.
© National Museums Scotland

Silver bowl

This silver bowl was found in a hoard containing 28 silver objects and part of the jaw of a porpoise, 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.

The sides of the bowl have been ornamented with a frieze of interlaced animals. The contours of the animals are marked by punched dots, which have also been added to the 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: 000-100-036-417-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 269
Date: Between 750 and 825
Material: 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: 5.75" D x 1.90" deep
What: Bowl
Where: Scotland, Shetland, St Ninian's Isle
Description: Bowl with deep basal depression, decorated with a procession of four contorted animals on a dotted background, from St Ninian's Isle, Shetland
  • Small, A., Thomas, C., and Wilson, D.M. St. Ninian's Isle and its treasure. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973, vol. 1, pp 47-9. 
  • Youngs, Susan (ed). 'The Work of Angels'. Masterpieces of Celtic metalwork, 6th-9th centuries AD. London: British Museums Publications Ltd, 1989, p. 109. 
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