YORYM-7186F7: Early-medieval : Harness mount

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Unique ID: YORYM-7186F7

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

A cast copper alloy gilded circular early Anglo-Saxon horse-harness mount with a zone of Style II animal art decoration, dating to the late 6th to first half of the seventh century. It is likely that this object would have decorated the bridle/breast harness of the horse. This mount is very similar to one that was found in Ashdon (Essex) PAS database No: FAHG-33D653. The object has been broken into one large piece and three smaller pieces; they have all been glued back together by the finder. The copper alloy survives in a very good condition as does the gilding which is only evident on the front surface. The mount is flat and has a diameter measurement of 73mm and the plate is 2.4mm thick. It weighs 40g. There is a central circular setting (12.02mm internal diameter) with four similar but smaller settings evenly spaced around to form a ‘quincunx’ pattern (each with an approximate 7.6mm internal diameter). All five apertures have lost there settings. The Ashdon examples smaller settings retained a dome of white material, but have all apparently lost a central setting within this which would probably originally have been of garnet. White material can be made of various things such as shell or chalk. On this example the central setting may have been a glass or garnet piece. Some iron corrosion remains inside the five settings, whilst there are also traces on the front surface, traces of green copper alloy corrosion product also still survive. Even so, considerable detail can be made out. The settings have single beaded collars. Around the central setting there is a double border infilled with alternating plain sections with nine sections comprised of four raised, radiating lines. Around this there is the main zone of Style II animal art decoration. This comprises a series of interlacing Style II animals, made up of triple or quadruple strands. The animals are twisted together and are looking over each other shoulders, the leg are also visible. Three raised borders then define this area. The outer rim comprises a geometric design, of triple interlacing strands. The outer border is divided by the four apertures for the settings. Therefore creating four fields, each pair of opposites are the same – forming an alternating design. One pair are closer knitted together than the other. Four rivet holes have been drilled through the centre of each field, equidistance from the settings. The reverse is flat, with a pitted and corroded surface. Fine striations on the reverse could indicate where leather was once attached, which has then been lost in the post-depositional process. But it is also possibly that this is the staining from another artefact. On the reverse it is clear that the original rivet holes where positioned underneath the outer settings, as the rivet holes can still be seen. The new rivet holes indicate that the object has either been reused or recycled. Further discussion provided by Helen Geakes’ description of the Ashdon mount: Mounts of this type are often known simply as Allington Hill-type mounts, because before the discovery of the horse-harness in Sutton Hoo Mound 17, their function was unknown. The Mound 17 mount was on the brow-band of a bridle, and it is possible that all of these mounts were originally on bridles. Fern’s study of early Anglo-Saxon equestrian equipment (Fern 2005) discusses circular bridle mounts (pages 53-57, figs. 5.6 and 5.15), with the Sutton Hoo example and the two from Allington Hill, as well as one from Spelsbury in Oxfordshire. The PAS database has another, from Creslow in Buckinghamshire, and there are further examples from the early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries at Gilton in Kent and Standlake in Oxfordshire (MacGregor and Bolick 1993, nos. 47.2 and 47.4). This small corpus forms a continuum; there are large examples with two zones of animal decoration and four peripheral settings (such as at Allington Hill, Creslow and Ashdon), examples with two zones of animal decoration and no peripheral settings (such as at Sutton Hoo), then the inner zone of animal decoration shrinks to a band of simple plait (Spelsbury and the larger Standlake example) or twist (Gilton) before disappearing altogether (the smaller Standlake example). All are of gilded copper alloy. Like this example the Spelsbury and Creslow mounts, as well as both mounts from Allington Hill, have secondary rivet holes, which are not apparent on the Ashdown mount. The apparent presence of iron corrosion on the front of the mount may possibly result from re-use (the Spelsbury mount may have been converted into a brooch) but this must remain very uncertain. Another Allington Hill-type mount was discovered at a rally at Creslow, Buckinghamshire (PAS database no. BUC-B1B9A6).

Find of note status

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

Class: Horse harness
Sub class: Style II animal art


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Early
Subperiod to: Middle
Ascribed Culture:
Date from: Circa AD 550
Date to: Circa AD 650

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Thickness: 2.4 mm
Weight: 40 g
Diameter: 73 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 1st December 2007

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mrs Liz Andrews-Wilson
Identified by: Mrs Liz Andrews-Wilson
Secondary identifier: Tania Dickinson

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Manufacture method: Multiple
Completeness: Incomplete
Surface Treatment: Gilded

Spatial metadata

Region: Yorkshire and the Humber (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)
District: East Riding of Yorkshire (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: Near Pocklington

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: GPS (from the finder)
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Character undetermined

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: YORYM
Created: 10 years ago
Updated: 8 years ago

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