top of page

Solbergvasen - from the Roman emperor's court to the foot of Holtefjell

source Eiker Archive

          The remains of the Solberg vase                                                                                       The Portland vase

Today, there is a big difference between the famous Portland vase, which is exhibited at the British Museum in London, and the Solberg vase, which is kept at the National Museum in Oslo. The Portland vase is whole and undamaged, while there are still a few small pieces left of the Solberg vase.

But the archaeologists are quite sure that the two vases were originally identical, so to speak.

It's no secret how the Portland pigeon ended up in the UK. It was in 1784 that the Duke of Portland, who was an avid art collector, bought the vase that had previously belonged to the powerful Barberini family. The vase had been found 200 years earlier, in the burial chamber of none other than Alexander Severus, who was Roman emperor 222-235.

On the other hand, it is a bit of a mystery how the Solbergvasen ended up in Norway. It was found in 1854 in a bog at the farms Solberg and Grøsland on Øvre Eiker. Since it was originally as great a work of art as the Portland Vase, it is likely that the Solberg Vase once belonged to some of the most powerful people in the Roman Empire, perhaps the emperor himself or someone in his family.

The experts believe that the two vases were made around the year 70, probably in Alexandria or by Egyptian glass artists who worked in Rome. The motifs on the vase are taken from Greek and Roman mythology. The Portland vase thus has a history of more than 150 years before it was buried with the emperor.

Three times as long - for more than 450 years - the Solberg vase has been in circulation. This can be assumed because it has been repaired with thin gold bands decorated with the animal style of the migration period. Therefore
the Solberg vase must still have been in such good condition at the beginning of the 6th century that it was worth repairing. But who brought the vase to Eiker and how it ended up in a bog are probably mysteries that will never be solved.

The Solberg vase is kept at the National Museum in Oslo, the Portland vase at the British Museum in London.

More about Roman glass

Source Magasinetkunst

Remains of the Solbergvasen.jpg
Portland vase.jpg
bottom of page