Ardagli Chalice

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One of finest examples of early Christian art known from the British Isles. Found in the last century, its association with another chalice and four brooches suggests that it could be part of the buried loot from a monastery following an Irish or Viking raid. The chalice is an 8th-century piece, in which exceptional artistic and technical skills have been applied to a variety of precious materials to produce an object of rare beauty. The form is simple: a round silver bowl with two handles standing on a splayed foot, to which it is linked by a band decorated in gilded filigree. The decoration is sumptuous, and strongly resembles Irish illuminated manuscripts of the period as well as Anglo-Saxon metalwork. On the bowl are bands of gold filigree, and roundels built up of plaques containing enamelling and cloisonné work, gold wire in the form of Celtic scrolls, and animal interlace. The names of the apostles stand out in embossed silver below the plaques. The flange surrounding the foot of the chalice is heavily ornamented with square blue glass blocks, interspersed with filigree work and geometric interlace ornament.

The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983Copied