The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Aldbourne Four Barrows

Barrow / Cairn Cemetery


A Suggested use for "incense cups."
The Society's Museum possesses a varied and interesting series of the small vessels of burnt clay, which have, in the absence of exact information, been spoken of as " Incense Cups." I venture to suggest that they were used by the Ancient Britons for the very homely but impoertant purpose of containing the material—whether dried moss, dried fungus, or other kind of tinder—used in obtaining fire. They have, without exception, a pair of holes bored on one side, about half-an-inch apart. It has been suggested that these were intended for suspension ; may they not, more probably, have been the orifices through which a cord was passed to tie on the cover. An example from Lambourne, Berks, now in the British Museum, has a lid of the same ware as the cup it self, and ornamented with a corresponding pattern, and in both cup and cover there are two holes, the same distance apart, through which the string was prob»biy passed to fasten on the cover. None of these cups in the Society's Museum have covers. It is probable that the Lambourne cup is the only one known with this appendage preserved; but lids of wood may h»ve been used, which have decayced in the progress of the centuries. It is evident that the cups could not be used for holding incense, or any other similar substance, if suspended from hoies on one side.

W. Cunnington.

[A circumstance which seems to militate against Mr. Cunnington's theory is the fact that in most cases the perforations in these little cups are not near the upper edge of the vessel, as one would fancy that they would be if the string passing through them was to serve as a hinge for the lid, but an inch or more, that is to say, one-third of the way down the side of the vessel.— WAM Ed.]

W.A.M. No. 27 pages 174 to 175
Chance Posted by Chance
28th February 2011ce

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