A bucket filled with history

An extraordinary and rare vessel found by a metal detectorist in the Avon Valley at Breamore, Hampshire has gone on display at Winchester Guildhall.

Dating back to the 6th century AD, the brass bucket is believed to have been made near Antioch on the Orontes. Antioch was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River located on the site of the modern city of Antakya in Turkey.

The bucket is inscribed in ancient Greek with the words ‘Use this, lady, for many happy years’, and decorated with naked and armed warriors fighting a leopard and another beast, possibly a bear.

The unearthing of the bucket, and its prompt reporting to the Hampshire Finds Liaison Officer under Portable Antiquities Scheme (whereby finders bring their discoveries for a record to be made), led to the excavation by Channel 4's Time Team of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery on the site. Two other finds from the cemetery are included in the exhibition - a glass bowl, which was found nestling inside another bucket, and a garnet-ornamented buckle and belt end.

The bucket, along with the other objects, belong to Hampshire County Council and have been loaned to Winchester Museums for display at the Guildhall for a four-month period. This follows other successful cooperative projects between Winchester City council and Hampshire County Council, such as the return to the City of the 'Winchester bowl', an Anglo-Saxon vessel found in a grave at Oliver's Battery, and the loan from Winchester of Saxon objects for a new County exhibition at Winchester's Discovery Centre in Jewry Street.

Cllr Patricia Stallard, Winchester City Council's portfolio holder for Culture, Heritage and Sport is delighted that Winchester Museums is able to host the exhibition. She said, "Once again, a fruitful partnership with Hampshire County Council has made these wonderful Anglo-Saxon finds even more accessible to the public. We extend our warmest thanks to our colleagues at the County Museums Service."

Cllr Margaret Snaith, Hampshire County Council's Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage, returned the compliment and added, "I hope that the people of Winchester, and all our visitors too, will seize the opportunity to take a look at these fascinating objects."

Helen Rees, Curator of Archaeology at Winchester Museums said, "My imagination is gripped by the idea of an object manufactured so far away and in such different and exotic circumstances. How on earth did it make its way to pagan Saxon England?”

David Allen, Keeper of Archaeology at Hampshire County Museums added, "Only three examples have been found in England. To see others, one would have to go to Turkey, Italy or Spain".

The Breamore bucket, bowl and buckle will be on display at Winchester Guildhall from Tuesday 8th January until Wednesday April 30th 2008.

For more information about the exhibition, ring Winchester Museums Service on 01962 848 269 or visit www.winchester.gov.uk/heritage.

For more information about the Portable Antiquities Scheme visit www.finds.org.uk

The new County exhibition, of objects from the time of King Alfred, will be held at the Discovery Centre from 1st February 2008.