Spike lamp card

Spike lamp

1995.105.4888

On display

Grey fabric, sooted cresset or spike lamp; Saxo-Norman: spike lamp, type 'b', complete profile. Reduced ware with numerous quartz inclusions and sparse shell fragments (freshwater?) The spike or cresset lamp form occurs at least as early as the early 10th century and is characteristic of the Saxo-Norman period in major traded wares such as Thetford ware and Stamford ware in eastern England, but is rare in later deposits. Examples can be cited from Southampton in Saxo-Norman ware dated to the 11th-12th century (McCarthy and Brooks 1988, 188, fig. 100, 399), while a less close parallel in form but a ‘spike lamp’ in Thetford-type ware dated to the 11th-early 12th century comes from Great Yarmouth (McCarthy and Brooks 1988, 167, fig. 86 no 249). Spike lamps are present in Thetford ware and Thetford-type ware in the 11th-12th century and become more frequent in Later Thetford Ware in the 11th century (McCarthy and Brooks 1988, 161, fig. 82, nos 175, 176). The type is found in Stamford ware in the late 9th-12th century (McCarthy and Brooks 1988, 156, fig. 77, no 128), and also occurs in London in Local Grey ware in late 11th/early 12th-century contexts but become scarcer from the late 12th century onwards as glass became more common (Keys and Pearce 1998, 127). The evidence for the type suggests a 10th-12th-century date. Medieval illustrations show spike lamps were used by being suspended in metal loops (McCarthy and Brooks 1988, 116-7, fig. 58). The use of oil lamps is considered a less common and more expensive form of lighting than tallow candles in medieval contexts (Ottaway and Rogers 2002, 2987).