Iron Age vessel with ox handle found in Wales

An Iron Age vessel hoard discovered in a village in Monmouthshire, south east Wales, has been declared official treasure by the Assistant Coroner for Gwent. The vessels were buried together as a group around the time of the Roman conquest in the second half of the 1st century A.D.

The hoard was discovered in March of 2019 by metal detectorist Jon Matthews in a field under pasture in Llantrisant Fawr, Monmouthshire. The finder began to dig, uncovering an enameled bucket mount and a finely decorated saucepan. When he realized the objects were of archaeological note and that there was more still in the ground, he stopped digging at alerted the Portable Antiquities Scheme Cymru.

PAS Cymru archaeologists arrived quickly to excavate the find site. The tips of horns emerged from the soil, then the head of a small copper ox. This proved to the handle of an Iron Age copper alloy bowl. Further excavation revealed it was part of a vessel hoard containing a copper alloy cauldron and strainer, two Roman copper alloy saucepans, two coppered wooden tankards and a large Iron Age wooden bucket with copper alloy fittings. Archaeologists believe it was a drinking set.

A great deal of the wood from the coppered vessels was preserved, so the a large chunk of the hoard was removed en bloc and excavated in laboratory conditions to keep the wood from disintegrating. Soil samples have been taken from inside the vessels and will be analyzed for traces of what they last contained.