Green Porphory, Whithorn

Small fragment of green porphyry. The two larger surfaces are polished smooth. Green porphyry comes from quarries in Southern Laconia in Greece. It was extensively used in the Greek and Roman worlds for architectural veneers and decorative panels.  A large number of pieces have been found in medieval ecclesiastical and urban sites in North and Western Europe from layers dating between the 11th and 13th centuries. It has been suggested that the pieces from Whithorn and Barhobble may have come from a dilapidated Anglian shrine at the monastery of Whithorn which was dismantled and distributed as relics in the early 11th century. However this piece was associated with a group of metal-working crucibles, and may instead have been a commodity for use in jewellery. Porphyry is one of the items listed by Alexander Neckham (1157 - 1217), along with amber, adamant, serpentine and marble as part of the medieval goldsmith's stock in trade.
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