The Battersea cauldron


British Museum

British Museum

In the middle of the Bronze Age, around the thirteenth century BC, sheet-bronze working was developed to new heights. This allowed the construction of much larger, complex objects such as shields and especially cauldrons. They involved a very high investment in terms of labour and craft skills, and would have been highly valued. This splendid cauldron from Batttersea is a late example, dating to the transition to the Early Iron Age. It was constructed from seven sheets of bronze, each carefully shaped, curved and then rivetted together. The upper sheets were sharply out-turned and corrugated to provide extra strength; a tubular binding was added to the rim and two free-running ring handles were attached by rivetted straps. Such vessels would have been used to cook meals for chieftain's retinues. Flesh hooks, like those from Little Thetford and Dunaverny, may have been used to scoop meat from the cauldron. These superbly crafted objects helped emphasise the social importance of feasting in the Late Bronze Age, constituting a display of social and political control.

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  • Title: The Battersea cauldron
  • Date Created: -800/-600
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 405.00mm; Diameter: 560.00mm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: riveted; beaten; cast
  • Registration number: 1861,0309.1
  • Place: Found/Acquired Battersea. Found/Acquired Thames, River
  • Period/culture: Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age
  • Material: copper alloy
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Godwin, William