Swivels (2001 guide)

Introduction

Please note that this guide has not been fundamentally changed from the original print version of the Finds Recording Guide (Geake 2001), written when the database contained just 8,800 non-numismatic records.

These are medieval or later objects formed of generally D-shaped loops; many have an integral bolt and the other, counterpart loop, has a hole at its flattened base.  The loops can either be plain or have zoomorphic decoration: animal heads biting either a lower central boss, ring or bar.  Sometimes two loops with bolts or bars are connected by a large central element, usually globular, occasionally openwork.  Such swivels are multi-use items: the main suggestions made have been as links on dog leashes (some more clearly so), harness fittings, with smaller examples from hawk’s leashes.

PAS object type to be used

Use STRAP FITTING

PAS object classification to be used

Add ‘swivel’ to the Classification field

Date

Traditionally, swivels have been dated to the 11th or 12th century (e.g. Hammond 2013; Read 2016, 67; nos 483-485), but dating by the animal heads is problematic and the use of swivels decorated with animal heads probably lasted for most of the medieval period: some have been found on composite objects also featuring T-shaped buckles typologically of 13th- or 14th-century date.  However, there are apparent examples of Romanesque art among the animal heads; those biting a bar occur with large, generally globular, central components which are clearer indicators of a c. 12th-century date based on art style, see: SF4759, NMS-A473FB.  Plain examples are attested from the medieval period, but continue into post-medieval period.

Examples

Swivels: Swivel with 'ball and socket' joint and animal heads biting an external bar (top left, SUR-936C15); swivel on elaborate hinged fitting with T-shaped buckle (bottom left, BERK-703D40); Swivel loop and swivelling hook (top centre, BERK-941833); connected swivel loops, one with integral bolt (top right, PAS-2F7696); swivel loops with bars, connected to bolts which swivel in a globular central component (bottom right, SF-CF7C46). Copyright: Surrey County Council; Oxfordshire County Council; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; Suffolk County Council; CC-BY-SA licence)
Swivels: Swivel with ‘ball and socket’ joint and animal heads biting an external bar (top left, SUR-936C15); swivel on elaborate hinged fitting with T-shaped buckle (bottom left, BERK-703D40); Swivel loop and swivelling hook (top centre, BERK-941833); connected swivel loops, one with integral bolt (top right, PAS-2F7696); swivel loops with bars, connected to bolts which swivel in a globular central component (bottom right, SF-CF7C46). Copyright: Surrey County Council; Oxfordshire County Council; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; Suffolk County Council; CC-BY-SA licence)

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Key references

Read 2016