Friday, April 22, 2005


Web search for lost 'water monster' bowl


This is Lincolnshire
April 21, 2205

Historians have launched a hi-tech search for an ancient bowl which was found in Lincolnshire but has been missing for 130 years.

The Royal Society of Antiquaries is posting a 19th century drawing of the eighth century Witham Bowl on its new website, being launched tomorrow.

The silver artefact was found in the River Witham, at Washingborough, near Lincoln, in 1816.

It is a hanging bowl from the Middle Saxon period and features a mysterious animal at its centre - thought to be a dog or a water monster.

Historians have described the bowl as "the most remarkable piece of pre-Conquest plate ever found".

Though the bowl's exact purpose is unknown, it is believed that it would have hung on a wall.

It would have been filled with water, with the animal's head poking above the surface.

It was last seen as part of an exhibition in Leeds in 1868. One suggestion is that the bowl was sold as part of a collection at Christie's in the 1920s.

But archeologists, academics and historians have researched this theory and drawn a blank.

The Society of Antiquaries of London hopes that by putting pictures of the bowl on its website, the mystery of its disappearance may be solved.

The site will feature 4,000 drawings and ancient relics from its collection at Burlington House, in Piccadilly, which includes what is purported to be Oliver Cromwell's wart.

Workers believe that the Witham Bowl may have been hidden in someone's attic or may be on display in someone's home.

Archeology Data Service director Professor Julian Richards said: "People often think archaeology is about buried treasure.

"In reality the treasure often lies buried in archives and stores that are inaccessible or poorly documented."

Jim Bonnor is Lincolnshire County Council's senior built environment officer in conservation services. He said that the rediscovery of the Witham Bowl would be fantastic for the county.

"Without a doubt it would be a fantastic treasure to display in the new museum alongside other finds like the Witham Shield," he said.

"The Witham is a rich source of archeological discovery."


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