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Tyne and Wear HER(13614): South Shields, Arbeia Roman Fort, perforated spoons - Details

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S Tyneside

South Shields, Arbeia Roman Fort, perforated spoons

South Shields

Food Preparation and Consumption

Food Preparation Equipment




Two perforated spoons have been found at Arbeia. Such spoons are a wide range of shapes and designs and they may had had different purposes. Some examples have a very large hole in the bowl, some have two holes. Some have circular bowls, some have oval. Some have highly decorated terminals (like the Arbeia examples). At least 74 examples are known from Britain. The majority have been found in Yorkshire, some 47 from the caves around Settle and Giggleswick. These spoons are not known on the Continent and in Britain they are only found in the north. The spoons have been found in first and fourth century contexts. Were they still in use in the 4th century or were the finds just residual? Due to the holes, the 'spoons' would only be useful for stirring. They were originally thought to be 'spoon-shaped brooches' with the two ends threaded through 'button holes' in the cloth and a cord tied through the hole in the bowl. Later, the simple 'spoons' with large central hole and no fancy terminal, were suggested as a hair decoration. Other suggestions are that the 'spoons' were used for pulling out woollen thread prior to spinning or were children's toys.




Alex Croom, 2010, Finds spot: Perforated spoons, in Arbeia Magazine, Issue 41, 2010, pp 18-19; L. Allason-Jones, 1996, Roman military and domestic artefacts from Great Chesters, Archaeologia Aeliana, 5th Series, Vol. 24, pp 187-214; M.J. Dearne and T.C. Lord, 1998, The Romano-British Archaeology of Victoria Cave, Settle, BAR British Series 273

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