Bishops Cannings 'Horse Handled' Urn

The barrow at Shepherd’s Shore, Bishops Cannings was excavated before 1860 by T. Sloper. The ‘horseshoe-handled’ urn recovered was originally restored by William Cunnington III. This type of urn dates to approximately 2000 BC.

The vessel had undergone significant reconstruction in the past as only 20% of the original had survived, although sherds from the base, walls and rim were present. The method of reconstruction used was to build the sherds up around a terracotta flowerpot of approximately similar proportions to the vessel. Layers of cement were applied to the outside of the flowerpot and sherds of the vessel set into it. Fragments of green glazed ceramic, flint, stone and also fragments of ceramic possibly dating to the Bronze Age were found.

 A pot with a wide rim and a narrow base. There is a curved handle lying against the side of the pot    Bishops Cannings Urn

As part of the new treatment the vessel was completely reconstructed for display using the spinning method due to the small number of sherds remaining. An accurate profile of the object could still be obtained as sherds from several different areas of the vessel had survived.

The resulting vessel was completely different in shape. The rim was the right diameter, however the vessel was slightly taller than originally thought and had a narrower cone-shaped body with a narrower base. This change led to the vessel being re-dated as 1000 years older than previously thought.

This vessel is also part of the collection at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum, Devizes. The object has been removed from display as its re-dating now unfortunately makes it unsuitable for inclusion in the particular gallery where it was previously displayed.