Posts in Category: Food

February - We've gone nuts for this cracker 

Friday, February 02, 2018 10:58:00 AM Categories: Copper Food Metal Post-medieval Tool

For February's Find of the Month we have selected a rather unusual post-medieval nutcracker to show you. It was discovered in a field near King's Lynn in West Norfolk and is exceptional in both its preservation and its unusual form. It is designed around a miniature of a tripod cooking pot or cauldron, of a type that was in use from circa CE 1200-1700.

Photo of post-medieval nutcracker

Cleverly the nutcracker uses the miniature pot as the container for the nut. A threaded shaft with an openwork handle enters from the side which when turned crushes the nut against the side of the pot.

Screw threaded nutcrackers did not appear until the 17th century so this example probably dates from circa CE 1600-1800

The full record on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database for this lovely object can be found at:

June - Panned Out Well 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 11:48:00 AM Categories: Accessories Brooch Copper Food Religion Roman

June's find of the month is a rather nice and very unusual copper alloy Roman brooch.  It is of a type that is representational of an object, which are collectively known as skeuomorphic brooches. 

Figure 1. Roman Patera brooch

Figure 1. Roman Patera brooch

This particular example (Figure 1) was found near Marham in Norfolk and is very unusual in that it represents a small Roman vessel called a Patera (see Figure 2). The exact purpose of the Patera in Roman life is not entirely clear but it is believed that they were used as simple cooking utensils and/or ceremonially to pour libations or make offerings of food to a chosen deity. There are many other types of representational brooches produced by inventive Roman craftsmen; these include for example amphora, horse and riders, axes, and sandal soles.

Figure 2. Examples of Roman Paterae

Figure 2. Examples of Roman Paterae

To date, there is only one other Patera brooch recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database which was found on the Isle of Wight. Both records can be viewed in full at using the search reference NMS-2104DA for the Norfolk example, and IOW-1EE0B7 for the Isle of Wight example.

December - Best foot forward 

Friday, December 04, 2015 12:22:00 PM Categories: Animals Copper Food Metal Post-medieval

December's find of the month is a modest choice, modest in the sense that it is a humble fragment of something much larger. 

Photo of animal-headed foot of post-medieval chafing dish

A significant part of the skill of the identifier of these fragmentary objects is being able to recognise them as pieces of the parent object which they used to be part of. It is rather like being handed a single piece of a large jigsaw and needing to recognise it as part of the bigger scene from a recollection of the box lid. 

Challenge met then, the small fragment pictured above, turns out to be the animal-headed curving foot of a post-medieval chafing dish support.  It’s location in-situ can be seen in the picture below of an example in the Curtius Museum in Belgium.

Photo of example of whole chafing dish from the Curtius Museum in Belgium

Chafing dishes were used to hold burning charcoal or other combustible material, whose purpose was to cook food or keep it hot at the table. Examples of this type of dish date to circa 1575-1650 AD.

The object was found on farmland close to Wymondham in Norfolk. The full record can be seen at using the reference NMS-AB93AB.

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