VM_365 Day 174 Roman Chalk vessel from Broadstairs

VM 174

The image for Day 174 of the  VM_365 project shows fragments of a nearly complete vessel carved from a chalk block found at the Roman building at Fort Hill, Broadstairs in 2009.

The vessel was found in  a deposit of building tumble  within the remains of a cellar. The edges of the separate fragments are worn and the breaks are abraded. The vessel is roughly diamond shaped and its outer dimensions measure 0.25 metres by 0.25 metres and 0.22 metres high.

The base and edges of the vessel are rounded and the outer surface has been dressed with small tool marks visible on the surface. One edge may be incomplete although its edge appears worn rather than broken. The inner dimensions of the vessel measure 0.12 by 0.12 metres and 0.13 metres deep with near vertical sides and a slightly rounded base with a smooth, lightly pitted inner surface.

The function of the vessel is unclear. Its size and shape raises some interesting possibilities in its interpretation. The bowl could have been supported upright by a free standing frame or set into a structure. Although there is no evidence of mortar adhering to it, it could have been set into a wall possibly to form a niche. It may be that it was not originally intended to rest on its base at all, but one of its flat sides. It is also feasible that one edge was originally shallower in depth than the others.

What could the vessel have held? There is no residue remaining in its interior to aid with interpretation. As a vessel it could have been used in a domestic kitchen or perhaps it was used in a more religious or ritual context perhaps for washing hands or for water purification possibly with a subsidiary vessel inside it. As a niche the vessel could have been used to hold a candle or perhaps form part of a shrine holding a household deity.

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