The Keshcarrigan bowl

The keshcarrigan bowl
Keshcarrigan bowl by Jane Hawkes (CC)

This beautiful bronze bowl was discovered in 1854 in a river flowing into Lough Scur, which lies just north of Keshcarrigan in Co. Leitrim. Iron Age in date and measuring approximately 14 cm in diameter, it may have been a ceremonial drinking cup.

The bowl is fashioned out of beaten bronze and was probably finished on a lathe, as a chuck mark is visible on its base. The handle is soldered on and is decorated with a distinctive bird’s head motif, which may represent a swan or duck. The bird’s head contains two eyes sockets and these may have originally held red enamel insets.  The remainder of the bowl is plain except for a hammered zig-zag line along the out-turned rim. This simple but striking artefact is reminiscent of 1st century AD bowls from southern Britain and it may represent an import. It would undoubtedly have been a prestigious item and its deposition in a watery context may represent ritual activity rather than an accidental loss.


Jope, E. M. (1954) ‘The Keshcarrigann Bowl and a Bronze Mirror-Handle from Ballymoney’ in Ulster Journal of Archaeology, Third Series, Vol. 17, pp. 92-96

Waddell, J. (1998) The Prehistoric Archaeology of Ireland, Galway University Press, pp. 323-325

Wallace, P. F. (2000) A Guide to the National Museum of Ireland, Town House and Country House, Dublin, pp. 30-31

5 thoughts on “The Keshcarrigan bowl

  1. I got a parcel in the mail today and was excited noticing that the stamp bore a copy titled ‘Keshcarrigan Bowl.’
    I was not aware that such stamp had been struck!

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