Click smaller images to enlarge.


A rare Saxon beaker in translucent pale green glass decorated with a lightly incised swirling pattern from the Rhine area of Germany. The vessel has a pinched waist formed by a gentle constriction above the narrow lower section. A beautiful piece of glass from late antiquity, unusual in both shape and decoration. Circa 6th - 7th century AD.

Rhenish glass was produced along the Rhine from as early as the third century AD, with glass factories (probably Roman in origin) excavated in several locations, including Worms and Cologne. The glass produced by the Saxons enjoyed a variety of uses, from vessels to window glass to jewellery: this glass beaker is typical of the period, the insubstantial base, making the vessel top-heavy and unstable. The suggestion is, therefore, that these vessel were designed to be held in the hand until the drink was consumed.

The main type of glass found in the Anglo-Saxon period is soda-lime-silica glass, continuing the Roman tradition of producing glass, with higher amounts of iron, manganese and titanium. The slightly higher amount of iron in the Early Anglo-Saxon glass results in a colourless glass, with a greenish or yellowish tinge. There is a significant difference between Roman and Anglo-Saxon vessel forms, with glass working techniques becoming more limited than in the Roman period. Vessels such as this are one of only a few Anglo-Saxon forms can be classified as tableware, as this term implies that vessels could be set on a flat surface. Many Anglo Saxon forms have rounded or pointed bases.

Condition: Very Fine condition; no chips or cracks. Silvery, purple and green iridescence.

Dimensions: 9cm x 6cm approx.

Provenance: Ex private collection, UK. Acquired in the early 20th century.