IOW-4FA904: Late Early-Medieval Anglo-Scandinavian Mount

Rights Holder: Isle of Wight Council
CC License:

Rights Holder: Isle of Wight Council
CC License:

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Unique ID: IOW-4FA904

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

A complete cast copper alloy Late Early-Medieval Anglo-Scandinavian mount in the form of a human male mask facing forwards (c. AD 1000 - c. AD 1066). Length 31.0mm, width 28.0mm and 7.6mm thick. Weight 17.24g. The mount is sub-triangular in plan and some of the detail at the front is lost due to corrosion or exfoliation. It is moulded and convex at the front and largely concave at the rear. The hair is represented by five projecting lobes, three at the top and one at each side which give the impression of being large curls. The eyes appear to have been almond shaped. However, these, as well as the nose, are quite indistinct due to corrosion or exfoliation. The mouth is defined by two short and horizontal parallel grooves. A striking feature of the mask is the prominent moustache which droops down at either side and terminates with a large upturned curl extending beyond the cheeks. The formalised beard consists of vertical grooves within a semi-circular groove to represent hair. There were four separate rivets (or possibly pins), one through the central lobe at the top, one at each side, between eye and nose level (one is now missing) and one through the lower part of the beard. The surviving three rivets/pins are made of copper alloy. The rear face has a flat border but is concave at the centre. The piece is corroded and appears to be worn. A mid-brown patina has survived in places on the front and rear. Where the patina is absent, the surface colour of the metal is reddish.

A comparable mount has been recorded from the East Riding of Yorkshire on this database: YORYM-5C08E5


Barry Ager of the British Museum has examined an image of the object and has made the following comments: "Although it is not itself a stirrup-strap mount, the closest parallel I can suggest for the mount's projecting brows, prominent chin and curling moustache are the stirrup-strap mounts depicting human masks of David Williams's Class A, type 9 (D. Williams, 1997, Late Saxon Stirrup-Strap Mounts: a classification and catalogue, CBA Research Report 111, 51-3, fig. 35; his distribution map in fig. 13 shows four occurrences in Hampshire, as well as elsewhere in southern England, with seventeen examples recorded in all). They date to the first half of the 11th century and possibly into the second half, though mainly belong to the period of Danish rule in England, so I think the Brighstone mount could be similarly dated on stylistic grounds. The connection with horse-riding equipment, the decoration and the curved back also suggest a possible, though not entirely certain, identification of the mount with the type of face-mask mounts on the Danish harness-bow from Søllested. The bow is wooden and arched in section, with a decorative metal crest in the Viking Jellinge Style, combined with elements of the Mammen Style, that is perforated for the reins to pass through from the driver of a wagon; the harness-bow would have been strapped across the horse's back (it is illustrated in D.M. Wilson and O. Klindt-Jensen, Viking Art, London, pl. 37, with one of the damaged mask mounts shown in pl. 37d; these mounts appear if anything more clearly in a 19th-century engraving reproduced in the article by A. Pedersen, "Søllested - nye oplysninger om et velkendt fund", Aarbøger for Nordisk Oldkyndighed og Historie, 1996, pp. 37-111, fig. 2, with an English summary). It dates to the late 10th century, so it is a little earlier than Brighstone, and I am not aware of surviving examples of harness-bows of the 11th century, but it is conceivable that the form could have continued in use into this later period. The curvature of the mount would certainly suit it for fitting as one of a series to the side of such an artefact, although it is more substantial than the Danish examples, which are also differently fixed with small pins round the edges".

Find of note status

This has been noted as an interesting find by the recorder.

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Late
Subperiod to: Late
Date from: Circa AD 1000
Date to: Circa AD 1066

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 31 mm
Width: 28 mm
Thickness: 7.6 mm
Weight: 17.24 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 28th January 2007

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Frank Basford
Identified by: Mr Frank Basford
Secondary identifier: Mr Barry Ager

Other reference numbers

Other reference: IOW2007-1-60

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Isle of Wight (Unitary Authority)
District: Isle of Wight (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: Isle of Wight

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: GPS (from the finder)
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Discovery circumstances: Metal detecting rally
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Operations to a depth greater than 0.25m

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: IOW
Created: 11 years ago
Updated: 2 years ago

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