A metal detectorist found a Roman silver “ligula” in the municipality of St. Nicholas and Bonvilston in Wales, commonly known as a “toilet spoon”. The discovery, made in June 2020, has now been declared a treasure by Welsh authorities, along with other items.

Immediately after the discovery, Mark Lodwick, Coordinator of the Portable Antiquities Scheme for Wales (PAS Cymru), was notified. Evan Chapman, Chief Archaeology Curator at the National Museum Wales, identified the treasure and reported on it.

The small silver spoon has a circular bowl and a thin, sharp handle. Both the handle and the spoon’s bowl were straight, but it was found bent in two parts.

Various uses for Roman “ligulae” have been suggested, such as extracting cosmetics and perfumes from long-necked bottles and applying them to the face or body, extracting and applying medicines, and use during medical procedures.

Silver “ligulae”, unlike more common copper alloy examples, are more frequently associated with these medical applications, possibly due to the antimicrobial properties of silver. This spoon provides valuable archaeological evidence of medical knowledge and personal hygiene practices in Roman Western Britain.

The Cowbridge and District Museum has expressed interest in acquiring this treasure find after it has been independently assessed by the Treasure Valuation Committee.

Other finds were also declared treasures at the same time by authorities, including a set of Bronze Age pieces consisting of fragments from two swords and five axes, two of which are decorated, dating back to around 1000-800 B.C.

According to specialists, this treasure is unusual as it contains fragments from two swords, one of which is a decorative blade tip fragment made in northwest France. Therefore, this small sword fragment is part of a much broader story connecting the people living in the Pendoylan community with those in northwest France around 3,000 years ago.

Additionally, a gold-silver ring, probably from the early 16th century, decorated with eight bead panels divided by diagonal bands arranged in a zigzag pattern.


Sources

Amgueddfa Cymru (Wales Museum)


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