Silver bowl

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found on 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 a porpoise's jaw, buried in a ruined chapel on St Ninian's Isle at Dunrossness in Shetland between 750 and 825. The objects probably belonged to a Pictish chief.

The bowl is much warped and corroded and part of the rim has been restored. The exterior is decorated with four pairs of grotesque animals. These animals are facing each other and their bodies are interlocked.

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 on other objects are distinctive Pictish artistic traits.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-190-001-154-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 270
Date: 8th century
Buried between 750 and 825
Material: 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
Dimensions: 5.75" approx D x 1.60" deep
What: Bowl
Where: Scotland, Shetland, St Ninian's Isle
Description: Bowl of silver, decorated with four pairs of grotesque animals, interlocking, from St Ninian's Isle, Pictish, 8th century
  • Small, A., Thomas, C., & Wilson, D. M. St. Ninian's Isle and its Treasure. London: Oxford University Press,1973 
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