Sunday, 21 October 2012

Iron Age Bucket Reconstruction Project

I've busied myself with some reconstruction work this Sunday morning. The girls went shopping while I slaved over making a convincing picture of how my Iron Age boar head bucket mount would have looked on its parent object.

The Aylesford Bucket was used as a template from which to create the correct perspective. A bucket was drawn, the mount traced from the right angles for a correct fit then put in place upon the bucket rim and finally the handle was drawn to complete the thing. It looks just as it should and probably much as it once did, give or take an inch here and there.

Such an exercise is worth all the effort. The item cosseted in its little box is one thing but an imagination of how it was once used lifts it out of the collection and pushes it into another realm.

The mounts at left appear about life size on my screen. The buckets were quite small things too. Viewed in pictures they seem large because our notion of a bucket comes in a certain size and that's the size of a modern 5 gallon one. Perhaps they should be called pails? That term that would suggest something smaller than those black plastic utility buckets we buy from the DIY store and that skew our idea of these Iron Age vessels.

The Aylesford bucket is approximately twenty centimeters across the rim and thirty deep, so it's diminutive compared to the B&Q version and more the size of an ice bucket for chilling the champers than a vessel for carrying building rubble about. Its capacity was probably about a gallon or two.

The boar mount has the front of the deep slot that accommodated the rim of the bucket broken off. However, it's well known how such mounts were formed so I used the Alkham human head mount in the British Museum for the purposes of drawing a convincing missing front section where the rivet would have been.

The bronze bands that held the wooden staves in place would probably have been decorated but there's no point in my drawing my idea of what that decoration would have been without some evidence in the form of fragment of the bands, but I never found them so presume the mount was simply lost from the vessel after it broke.

The reconstruction works well for the purposes of having a clear idea of how my mount worked and once looked on its bucket. I think it was labour well spent on an otherwise ordinary Sunday morning.


  1. Your learned posts deserve a wider audience. Jeff.
    I always find them educational and interesting.

  2. Thanks John, I do my best! Glad to hear it's good enough.

    I'm working on a proper text about these mounts at the moment. When the subject is exhausted I'll stop, but the word count is climbing over the 10,000 mark, so perhaps it'll be a book before I get it clean out of my system!