The Hoxne hoard consists of over 15,000 gold and silver coins, gold jewellery. There are also numerous small items of silver tableware, including pepper pots, ladles and spoons. Also found were traces of a large wooden chest and smaller caskets with tiny silver padlocks, into which the treasure had been carefully secreted. It was discovered in November 1992 by Eric Lawes, who immediately reported the find and did not remove all the objects from the ground. This responsible conduct enabled the Suffolk Archaeological Unit to carry out a controlled excavation of the deposit, which greatly enhanced our understanding of the find.
Hoxne Pepper Pot
Late Roman, 4th century
Silver, gold; H. 103.00mm
This pepper pot is from the Hoxne hoard, the richest find of treasure from Roman Britain. Alongside the approximately 15,000 coins were many other precious objects, buried for safety at a time when Britain was passing out of Roman control. This object was one of four in the hoard.
Pepper was first imported into the Roman world from India in the first century AD, but piperatoria, the special containers for this expensive spice, are very rare finds. This example takes the form of a hollow silver bust of a woman. Although she has sometimes been described as an empress, it is more likely that she simply represents the ideal of a wealthy refined and sophisticated lady of the late Roman period. This is implied by her jewellery and rich clothing, both of which are gilded, and the scroll she holds in her left hand, suggesting she is well educated.
The pot has a disc in the base which could be turned to three positions, one closed, one with large openings to enable the pot to be filled with ground pepper, and a third which revealed groups of small holes for sprinkling.