Finds Through The Ages – The Early Medieval Period.

This period covers the decline of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the Norman conquest of 1066 AD.

For Berkshire, there are only 181 records covering this period which doesn’t seem that many! In contrast with the Roman period, the finds dominating in this period are brooches, followed by strap-ends, then coins.

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A complete cast copper-alloy brooch of cross-on-bird form dating to c. AD 750 – c. AD 850. The brooch is in the shape of a bird, possibly a dove (symbol of the Holy Spirit), in profile and facing left with a Christian cross projecting upwards from the centre of its back. Traces of a green-yellow coating over the bird and cross, possibly indicate enamelling. This brooch has been classed as a Weetch type 30.B, and was included in Included in Weetch 2013 as catalogue no. 915, a very rare find of note indeed found in Boxford! Click on the image to read more about the object.

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

This copper alloy gilt button brooch dates to c. AD 450 – c. AD 600, and was found in East Berkshire. The decoration is in the form of a stylized male face with moustache! There are quite a number of these types of button brooches which bare faces on the PAS database.

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

Next we have a copper alloy gilt saucer brooch dating to c. AD 450 – c. AD 550. The brooch is decorated with five running spirals around a central ring and dot inside a circular border. What is interesting about this brooch is that it has a hole and some residue of white metal on the reverse around this hole so it may have been repaired or re-used. This particular find was found very close to the time celebrating the recent milestone of the 1.5 millionth find recorded on the PAS database! It was found in Speen. Many brooches such of this type have been recorded on the database with varying number of spirals.

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

Even though only a fragment survives of this brooch it is still rather spectacular! It is a copper alloy gilt fragment of a florid cruciform brooch dating c. AD 575 – c. AD 600. The head plate has a recessed panel decorated with a chip-carved with Style 1 interlaced motifs. This was found in Wokingham.

 

STRAP ENDS

 

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This unusual silver tongue-shaped strap-end is in the process of being acquired by the West Berkshire Museum in Newbury where it will be one day displayed!

It has been dated from the 9th to 10th century. It takes the form of an animal mask, with two circular ears marked with a crescent-shaped line; beneath this, on either side of the head, are two almond-shaped eyes; and the rest of the head is decorated with a central motif resembling a 7- or 8-pointed star. The record notes state: ‘It does not fit perfectly within Thomas’ (2003) typology, but shares features with his Class A which have tapering plates and zoomorphic terminals. The style of the animal headed terminal suggests a broad date between the ninth and tenth centuries.’

 

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This complete copper alloy zoomorphic strap end, dates to the 9th Century AD, and was found in Aldworth. The strap end is in Thomas Class A Type 1, being broadly rectangular with slowly tapering ends, especially at the ‘snout’ end. The central panel is decorated with an interlaced beast in Trewhiddle style with degrading niello.

COINS

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A silver penny of Offa of Mercia (757-796), Light Coinage (c.765-92; Chick type 67); minted by Pendred at London. The coin was designated a find of note of regional importance and found in Shottesbrooke, East Berkshire.

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

A gold tremissis Merovingian of the ‘National coinage’ (c.AD580 – 670) dating to the period cAD580 – 610. The coin was designated a find of note of County importance and was found in East Berkshire.

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0
Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

These 2 incomplete silver pennies of Edward the Confessor (AD 1042-1066) were struck between AD 1053-1056. They are the ‘Pointed Helmet’ type and were found in close proximity of each other in West Berkshire. They were donated to the West Berkshire in Newbury after being declared as Treasure.

SWORD POMMELS

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This incomplete copper-alloy sword pommel cap is of the ‘cocked hat’ type dating to c. AD 410-c. AD 720. Found in Welford.

 

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This later complete copper alloy sword pommel is of Petersen Type S comprising five lobes increasing in size from the edges to the centre. It dates to c. AD 900 – c. AD 1100. This form is considered to be of English origin (Davidson 1962, 55-6), but is called “Viking” and “of late Viking style” by Oakeshott (1991, 78 and 81). Found in Stanford Dingley.

OTHER OBJECTS

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

An 11th century copper alloy stirrup strap mount with the engraved decoration picked out in silver wire. It is Williams Class A Type 1 featuring two addorsed beasts beneath a pendant loop. Found in West Berkshire.

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A zoomorphic terminal made of silver and partly gilded, dating to c. AD 775 – 800. The terminal is hollow-cast, with a pyramidal socket of rectangular section which would perhaps originally have held a wooden rod. This object is a find of note and was acquired by the West Berkshire Museum in Newbury after being declared Treasure. For more information click on the image to be redirected to the PAS record.

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

This intricately decorated copper alloy die stamp is possibly a ‘Pressblech’ die dating to the early 7th century AD. Pressblech dies were used to stamp designs onto thin sheets of metal, such as gold and silver foil, which were then used to decorate larger objects. The foils on the Sutton Hoo helmet are an example of this practice. This object was found in Boxford.

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

This rare buckle found in Lambourn is made of copper-alloy with a lead coating. It is a Sucidava buckle dating to c. 500 – 600 AD. Schulze-Dorrlamm Type D1. From the record: ‘this type of buckle is a standard Byzantine buckle form and would have been made by one of the Germanic peoples on the continent.’ Yet another find of note!

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This is an amazing find of note and Treasure item found in East Berkshire. It is a gold cloisonné insert probably from the tongue of an early Anglo-Saxon buckle, dating to the late sixth to mid seventh century. The item is pelta-shaped and comprises a panel of gold, garnet and glass cloisonné cellwork, containing around thirty settings/inlays. There are 12 red inlays (probably garnets) and three blue glass inlays which survive. Click on the image to find out more.

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

 

Lastly we have this impressive assemblage of grave goods comprising, two incomplete copper alloy vessels (AD.475-600) and two ferrous spearheads, AD.450-550. The objects were found in association with small shards of bone and a single human toe bone. For a detailed account of the finds including more photographs of the objects in this assemblage click on the image to be directed to the PAS record.