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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 April, 2005, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Hunt on for vanished Saxon bowl
The Witham Bowl
The Saxon bowl was discovered in 1816 but vanished 32 years later
Archaeologists hunting an Anglo-Saxon bowl missing for nearly 140 years are calling on the public to check their attics for the silver treasure.

The Witham Bowl - worth hundreds of thousands of pounds - vanished after an exhibition in Leeds in 1868.

First found in 1816 in the River Witham, Lincolnshire, it is thought to be the most remarkable piece of pre-Conquest silver found in England.

The Society of Antiquaries hopes new pictures online will jog memories.

The new picture catalogue will feature on its website from Friday.

The 8th-Century bowl is about 18cm in diameter and richly decorated with wild animals.

Witham Bowl

In the middle is the head of a mysterious creature - described as a dog or a "water monster" - which is believed to rise when the bowl is filled with water.

It is thought the hanging bowl would have originally contained water, but its specific purpose remains in doubt.

One theory is the vessel was sold as part of a collection at that auction house Christie's in the 1920s, and may have gone to the US.

But research by academics has drawn a blank.

"It might have been sold and gone to the United States, but then again someone could be using it as an ashtray or keeping paper clips in it," the society's spokeswoman Jayne Phenton said.

Anyone who thinks they might know the whereabouts of the bowl can contact the Society of Antiquaries at jphenton@sal.org.uk or telephone 020 7479 7087.

Suffolk site throws up new treasures
23 Jun 00 |  Science/Nature
Saxon bucket sells for 116,000
15 Jul 04 |  Suffolk
Appeal to keep Saxon treasures
08 Apr 03 |  Norfolk

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