Keys to the Past

Glossary

Hanging bowl

A metal bowl that was suspended by cords or chains threaded through attached side loops. These bowls date from the Saxon 5th to the first half of the 7th century AD. These bowls were highly decorated with enamels and incised designs. Hanging bowls are of uncertain function: the flattened rim would prevent the pouring of any liquid with any accuracy, whilst any solids held would obscure some of the incised details. Feasting bowls holding trinkets are mentioned in the Saxon poem Beowulf. Another possibility is that they held holy water. Only a few hanging bowls have been found in northern England - including one from Capheaton, Northumberland. (This is on display at the Museum of Antiquities of Newcastle upon Tyne).

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