NLM-219C93: silver-gilt mount, 2009T175

Rights Holder: The British Museum
CC License:

Rights Holder: The British Museum
CC License:

Rights Holder: The British Museum
CC License:

Rights Holder: The British Museum
CC License:

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Unique ID: NLM-219C93

Object type certainty: Probably
Workflow status: Published Find published

Object Date: Late 5th century to early 6th centuries AD

Description: ?Mount, perhaps a buckle tongue
Cast, silver-gilt, and elongated, three-dimensional ?mount. The sculpted Style I design comprises numerous anthropomorphic, animal, bird and monster masks and heads and the left and right side of the mount are symmetrical. Details of the hair of some of the human heads are nielloed. The underside is profiled, with a large longitudinal groove that is bisected by a central dowel. A carefully shaped hole is visible underneath as well. The gilding is worn in many places and one side of the mount shows a higher degree of abrasion of the large face mask in its centre than on the other side.

Discussion: The use of the object is unclear. The dowel and hole underneath may suggest that it was a mount that firmly slotted onto something. The three-dimensionality and use of sculpted masks can be paralleled in a fitting of unknown use from the Aldborough area, Norfolk (TAR 2005/6, no. 305) and more closely in a series of large buckle loops and tongues from Scandinavia and the Baltic (Franzén 2009). While some of these examples are different in shape, they are close in their execution, feature distinctive human and anthropomorphic heads and carefully moulded hair. A buckle from Proosa, Estonia, shows a closely comparable profile and a find from Snartemo gr. 5, Norway, displays the same grooved underside and circular hole (Franzén 2009, figs. 1 and 5). It is conceivable that the Thimbley mount is a buckle tongue and that the dowel and bore hole were meant for attachment of the anchorage that held the tongue to the buckle loop (cf. Marzinzik 2003, fig. 2A).

While the Norfolk fragment was found without context or further indication of its date, the Scandinavian buckles largely date to the late 5th century, with some evidence for the early 6th (Franzén 2009, 56-8). Given the object's appearance and the context for Style I in England, a date range of the late 5th to early 6th centuries is plausible.

Non-destructive X-ray fluorescence analysis of the surface of the mercury gilt, cast mount with niello inlay indicated a silver content of 91-95%, with copper and a trace of lead. The mount weighs 22.5 grams.

Note: This find qualifies as Treasure under the Treasure Act of 1996.

Dr. Sonja Marzinzik, M.A., F.S.A.

Compare NMS-664877 and NMS-4B8EF7, two more early Anglo-Saxon objects of unknown function and decorated with human heads.

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: British Museum
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2009T175


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Early
Subperiod to: Early
Ascribed Culture: Anglo-Saxon
Date from: Circa AD 450
Date to: Circa AD 550

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 48.8 mm
Height: 22 mm
Thickness: 15.2 mm
Weight: 22.5 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 15th March 2009

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Ms Lisa Staves
Identified by: Dr Sonja Marzinzik

Other reference numbers

Treasure case number: 2009T175
Museum accession number: 2011,8025.1

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Incomplete
Surface Treatment: Gilded

Spatial metadata

Region: East Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Lincolnshire (County)
District: East Lindsey (District)
Parish or ward: Thimbleby (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: TF2570
Four figure Latitude: 53.212369
Four figure longitude: -0.129618
1:25K map: TF2570
1:10K map: TF27SE
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: British Museum

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: NLM
Created: 9 years ago
Updated: 5 years ago

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