Vestlandskedler og malede glas


  • Hans Norling Christensen


Vestlandskedler, malede glas


Vestland Cauldrons and Painted Glass
Vestland cauldrons have been thoroughly treated and discussed by author­ities such as A. Bjørn, G. Ekholm and C. Hawkes). Denmark has not in the past been - nor is it now - able to offer any considerable material for the understanding of these cauldrons. Two new discoveries have, however, come to light during the past few years containing Vestland cauldrons, and this fact should justify the treatment here of this class of vessels.

Two main groups can be identified within the class of Vestland cauldrons (fig. 2): group A, the neck and shoulder of which are slightly offset in relation to each other; and group B, where the neck and shoulder either form a more or less definite angle with each other or else form practically a continuous whole. Group A is, so far as the present author is aware, only represented by the vessel from Filzen); its offset is here very small, almost reduced to a groove, but nevertheless unmistakable; its date, to judge by the other objects found with it, can hardly be later than about 300 A. D. Among the vessels of group B the following variants can be distinguished: the Kvitsleby variant, characterized by a vertical neck, a distinct shoulder and a definite obtuse angle between the shoulder and the neck; the Børte variant, characterized by a vertical neck running without a break into a short but definite outcurving shoulder; and finally the Sebø variant, characterized by a neck and shoulder all in one, sloping outwards and downwards. The following is a description of the existing Danish Vestland cauldrons: The Kragehul Mose cauldron (fig. 3) was sent in to the National Museum in 1865 and illustrated by Engelhardt in the publication of Kragehul. It had been beaten flat but the identification of group and variant appears clear: group B, Kvitsleby variant. Like the actual Kvitsleby cauldron (Ekholm No. 116) the Danish specimen possesses a groove between the neck and the shoulder. The remainder of the Kragehul board must be dated partly to the Late Roman Iron Age and partly to the Early Germanic Iron Age.

The Hjortdal cauldron (fig. 4) was found in 1943 and is now in Thisted Museum. This too belongs to the Kvitsleby variant and possesses a two-lined band between the neck and the shoulder. The cauldron contained calcined human bones, a little melted glass and some charred pieces of ornamented bone (fig. 5). The discovery must be dated either to the Late Roman Iron Age or to the Early Germanic lron Age.

The Stenlille cauldron (fig. 7) was found in 1944 and is now at the National Museum. Details of discovery are meagre but the probabilities suggest that the cauldron came from an inhumation grave which also contained a painted glass vessel (fig. 8) and possibly a gold finger ring (fig. 11 a). The cauldron belongs to the Børte variant of group B.

A survey of the discoveries made outside Denmark suggests the probability that the Kvitsleby variant (Ekholm No. 117;4)) should be dated to the latest phase of the Late Roman Iron Age, and most likely to the first half of the 4th Century A. D.; that the Børte variant (Bjørn Nos. 14, 12 and 86) should be dated to the Søsdala phase of the Germanic Iron Age,· probably the later part of the 4th Century A. D.; and that the Sebø variant (Bjørn Nos. 53, 72, 37,6)) should be dated to the Sjørup phase of the Germanic Iron Age, the 5th Century A. D.

The fragments of the painted glass vessel from Stenlille are stylistically at variance with the painted glass previously known from Danish discoveries, and they form a final link in a chain of development a summary of which follows:

About 200 A. D. we find what may be called three-dimensional painting, in which the perspective of the figures is enhanced by the choice of colour and of light and shade and by fine subsidiary lines (fig. 9). About 300 A. D., and during the first half of the 4th Century, glass painting changes its character. More importance is now attached to emphasizing the outlines of the figures, and perspective is no longer stressed by play of colour. The fine subsidiary lines are still found but in general the figures give more an impression of coloured drawings (fig. 10). Turning to the Stenlille glass we see that this painting too, which appears to represent a leopard, has the character of a coloured drawing (fig. 8). The representation of the figure, however, appears more crude than on the glass from Himlingøje, and the fine subsidiary lines are absent, while if we examine a detail such as the beard of the animal we get the impression of a crudes schematic detail, stuck on without any under­standing of organic relationship with the remainder of the head. This contrasts with the case of the corresponding animal on the Nordrup glass (fig. 9), and to some degree also with the animal on the Himlingøje glass (fig. 10). An important difference from earlier glassware is that, on the Stenlille glass, the painting extends almost up to the edge of the vessel, leaving no room for the usual horizontal row of dots, which otherwise normally marks the upper edge of the painting and thereby, as it were, unites the illustrated area. This shortage of space suggests that the glass belonged to the low variant of the cylindrical beakers (cf. KUML 1952, p. 87).

The various differences described suggests that the painted glass from Stenlille is later in date than the painted glass from Himlingøje, and it may therefore be from the Søsdala phase of the Germanic Iron Age, the period to which the cauldron from Stenlille presumably belongs. A piece of painted glassware of the same stage of development as the Stenlille glass has been found at Enekrogen on Bornholm (fig. 12); no details, however, exist of the circumstances of discovery of this latter specimen.

Hans Norling-Christensen





Christensen, H. N. (1953). Vestlandskedler og malede glas. Kuml, 3(3), 47–60. Hentet fra