HAMP-CEBED7: Early-medieval bow brooch

Rights Holder: Winchester Museum Service
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Rights Holder: Winchester Museum Service
CC License:

Rights Holder: Winchester Museum Service
CC License:

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Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

An almost complete gilded cast copper-alloy lozengiform strip brooch of middle early-medieval (8th- to early 9th-century) date. It is formed of one piece of metal wrought into a flat lozengiform plate with wire continuations at the longer apexes. At one end is a broken catch-plate (L.: c. 9.65mm) of sub-circular cross-section, broken before it would have curved round; it has also been weakened at its junction with the plate. At the other end is a far longer wire piece of circular cross-section, curved round on itself through one-and-a-half circles and continuing parallel to the plate as a pin (max. H.: 10.5mm). This sprung pin 'sags' slightly at its centre; it has been truncated (L.: c. 45.0mm) such that it no longer reaches the (broken) catch-plate and has been bent slightly to one side.

The plate has suffered some abrasions and larger losses at the smaller side apexes. The upper surface is decorated with an elaborate chip-carved motif within a border of concentric open lozenges. The outer border is decorated with a simple row of punched dots along its extant length. The inner border is decorated with engraved diagonal lines on parallel side; those on the top right and bottom left when the spring is uppermost. On the other two sides the decoration is formed of alternating zones of diagonal lines, generally three, with triangles left between them.

The central lozengiform field features a coiled zoomorphic beast whose tail appears to coil round it twice. Its upper body features slightly diagonal nicks that may represent hair or bristles. At the head is a triangle and a dot perhaps representing an ear and an eye, respectively. At four points, just off the cardinal points, legs emerge that arc towards the four apexes - on the longest, curling round on themselves.

Other than the losses and damage noted the object survives well with the vast majority of the gilding surviving on the stunning upper surface. The plain lower surface is a largely brown colour; some patches of green corrosion product show through in places.

This is perhaps the most ornate example to date recorded (Dr Kevin Leahy pers. comm. 15 June 2009) of a brooch type only confirmed as of early-medieval date in recent years. Indeed, such brooches with a lozengiform body and basic integral safety-pin type sprung pin have been published as late as 2000 as Bronze Age 'violin bow' brooches (e.g. Hattatt 2000, 281; refs. 1442, 1385). Geake (2001, 23-24) notes that recent examples from North Lincolnshire and Sedgeford (Norfolk) have confirmed a Middle Saxon date, with the more elaborate examples bearing the 'chip-carving' characteristic of 8th-century metalwork. New examples are coming to light through discovery and reclassification, some of which are recorded on this database, allowing for the creation of distribution maps of the type. See DENO-3FD883, SWYOR-B804D7, GLO-8D5E03, NMS-829627, LEIC-1D5537, SF7054, KENT1321 (no illustration) and NLM7136 (no illustration). Lozengiform strip brooches have recently been classified as Weetch Type 31.C, and this example has been illustrated in Weetch (2013, 186; no. 980).

The object in general, and the creature in particular, is most similar to an incomplete brooch from the productive Lincolnshire site of Melton Ross (Leahy 2007; ref. 47.3; ref. NLM1 on this database).

Find of note status

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

Class: strip
Sub class: Weetch Type 31.C

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: Hampshire County Musuems Service
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by a museum - not a Treasure case


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Middle
Subperiod to: Middle
Ascribed Culture: Anglo-Saxon
Date from: Circa AD 700
Date to: Circa AD 825

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 51.5 mm
Width: 27.25 mm
Thickness: 1.3 mm
Weight: 6.65 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Wednesday 10th June 2009

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Robert Webley
Identified by: Dr Kevin Leahy

Other reference numbers

Other reference: E2660

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Completeness: Incomplete
Surface Treatment: Gilded

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Hampshire (County)
District: Test Valley (District)
To be known as: Wellow CP

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: Hampshire County Musuems Service
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: HAMP
Created: 9 years ago
Updated: About one year ago

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