Toilet implements from the Hoxne hoard

British Museum

British Museum

The Hoxne (pronounced 'Hoxon') hoard is the richest find of treasure from Roman Britain. Alongside the approximately 15,000 coins were many other precious objects, buried for safety at a time when Britain was passing out of Roman control. They include these personal cosmetic or toilet utensils made of silver. The four implements with comma-shaped terminals are toothpicks of a known type. At the other end, they probably all had tiny flat scoops which could have been used for cleaning the ears, or possibly for removing cosmetics from small vessels. The pair of objects in the form of birds (ibises), appear to be much more elaborate versions of the same implement, the birds' beaks forming the toothpick. They are decorated with niello and gilding. The other three objects, two of them a matching pair, also have the scoop end, but they incorporate a socket. It is possible that these contained brushes, and if so, the other end was probably intended for handling cosmetic creams or powders.

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  • Title: Toilet implements from the Hoxne hoard
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 144.00mm; Weight: 24.90g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: gilded; nielloed
  • Subject: bird
  • Registration number: 1994,0408.145
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Hoxne
  • Period/culture: Romano-British
  • Material: silver; gold; niello
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Treasure Trove HM Treasury. With contribution from Art Fund. With contribution from National Heritage Memorial Fund. With contribution from British Museum Friends


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