Et middelalderligt saltkar fra Odense


  • Mikael Manøe Bjerregaard
  • Maria Elisabeth Lauridsen



middelalder, saltkar, Odense


A medieval saltcellar from Odense

In the early summer of 2013 Odense City Museums began one of the largest ever excavations in a medieval town in Denmark. The excavation has been characterised by many intriguing finds, one of them being a small hexagonal tin vessel, decorated with images of the Fall and Agnus Dei and with carved ‘hausmarks’ on its sides and an inscription in erroneous Latin. The vessel is unique in Denmark, but it is very similar in type to a group of saltcellars from western Europe dating from about 1300 to the early 1400s. Although a combination of the two images of the Fall and Agnus Dei is traditionally associated with baptism in medieval iconography, and therefore indicates a liturgical application, the inscription and the hausmarks strongly indicate secular use.

The saltcellar from Odense has seven different hausmarks on its vertical sides, indicating that seven different people put their names on the vessel. These hausmarks probably do not represent the members of a household, but could very well relate to members of a guild. The saltcellar may have been on the table in the guildhall whenever its members met for a feast. The hausmarks showed who was allowed to take salt from this particular vessel during the meal.

Several guilds are known from Medieval Odense, but only two of these can be traced back to the first half of the 14th century when this saltcellar was in use. These are the guild of St. Canute, the provision of which, dating from c. 1245, has been preserved, and the guild of St. Gertrude, mentioned in 1343.

Mikael Manøe Bjerregaard &
Maria Elisabeth Lauridsen
Odense Bys Museer





Bjerregaard, M. M., & Lauridsen, M. E. (2014). Et middelalderligt saltkar fra Odense. Kuml, 63(63), 245–264.