The magical name of Nornour came up in discussion at the recent workshop about enamelled Roman objects over at Malton in North Yorkshire. It reminded me that Dan, one of Manchester Museum’s dedicated Visitor Services Assistants, had given me copies of photographs he’d taken on a holiday visit to the Isles of Scilly Museum. By his kind permission I can share photos of the beautiful objects on the Ancient Worlds Blog.
The photo below shows the scale of the discoveries of brooches and other objects found on the remote island of Nornour in the Isles of Scilly. They were first revealed after gales exposed stonework and artefacts were revealed. Excavations were held on Nornour between 1962 and 1966 (see Archaeological Journal vol.124). The archaeological work showed a long period of prehistoric occupation but it was the bronze artefacts of Roman date that put Nornour on the map.
There were a lot of them as you can see from Dan’s amazing photo. They date from the later 1st to the early 3rd century AD. The sheer quantity suggests that this was the site of a shrine where objects were deposited as votive offerings. Another object, a pipe-clay depiction of Venus (below) is very interesting in this respect because, as Sarnia Butcher’s little book on Nornour (Isles of Scilly Museum Publication no.7) says, objects like this were often given as offerings at temples and shrines or placed with burials.
The nature of the objects seems to point towards some sort of special circumstances in which all the objects were left on Nornour. As the booklet suggests ‘the assemblage is best interpreted as offerings at a shrine from mariners plying between the continental ports and the Bristol Channel’.
My thanks to Dan for sharing his holiday snaps with us.