Silver plaque and gold disc from the Water Newton treasure

British Museum

British Museum

These objects are part of a hoard of silver vessels and plaques which is the earliest group of Christian liturgical silver yet found in the Roman Empire. It was discovered in a recently ploughed field at Water Newton, Cambridgeshire, the Roman town of Durobrivae, in February 1975. The hoard was much damaged by the plough. It consists of nine vessels, a number of silver votive plaques, and a gold disc. This type of plaque is well known from pagan temples bearing dedications to deities such as Mars, Minerva and Jupiter, but the examples found at Water Newton are the first to demonstrate the practice within a Christian congregation. Many of the objects bear the monogram formed of the Greek letters chi (X) and rho (P), the first two letters of Christ's name, and the symbol most commonly used by early Christians. Two bowls and one plaque have longer inscriptions in Latin. One of these, on a bowl, may be translated as 'I, Publianus, honour your sacred shrine, trusting in you, 0 Lord.' Other inscriptions give the names of three female dedicators: Amcilla, Innocentia and Viventia, who must also have belonged to the congregation.

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  • Title: Silver plaque and gold disc from the Water Newton treasure
  • Physical Dimensions: Diameter: 49.00mm; Weight: 4.50g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Registration number: 1975,1002.11
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Water Newton
  • Period/culture: Romano-British
  • Material: gold
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Treasure Trove HM Treasury. From Holmes, A J