DENO-6D3516: Early Medieval Brooch: Radiate Headed Brooch

Rights Holder: Derby Museums Trust
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Unique ID: DENO-6D3516

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Almost complete cast silver/copper-alloy radiate-headed brooch of early-medieval date. It has a semi-circular headplate with raised outer border, and within this two raised lines following the outline; in the centre there is a semi-circular zone of vertical lines. The brooch probably originally had five baluster-shaped projections with moulded terminals but only two incomplete ones remain, with the rest of the perimeter of the headplate being damaged. The rectangular bow is wide with a shallow arch just below the radiate head and expands towards the bottom. The front is moulded with a central raised rectangular band which flares out towards the foot of the brooch and is decorated with two facing rows of small incised triangles. To either side of this central band there are a pair of raised lines between which there is a raised zig-zag line of decoration. Traces of gilding remain on the surface of the brooch, particularly on the lower areas of the bow. There may be a break in the niello-inlaid triangles, or the niello may have mineralised to invisibility, at the junction of the bow and the foot. The rectangular foot continues the decoration on the bow, with the central silver and niello-inlaid band expanding at the terminal in a concave curve to run out to the corners of the foot; it is followed by the inner ridge and the zig-zag ridge, so that they all meet at the corners. The niello inlay is again obscured at the terminal and may be absent.

The reverse of the brooch is undecorated, but has the remains of the pin fitting surviving, which consists of a rectangular catchplate set centrally on the foot, just below the bow, and two semi-circular lugs on the head of the brooch which hold the axis bar in place. The axis bar has the spring fitting for the pin coiled around it, and (unusually) about half of the pin survives too.

The brooch is an example of A. Koch's variant I. (Koch 1998, pp.81-3), which he dates c. 500 to mid-6th century. The main distribution is in northern France, Belgium and the mid-to-lower Rhine region, but Koch also notes also examples from eastern England and central Germany, including three
from Mill Hill, grave 86. It can also be compared with the foot fragment KENT-E31C20 and also with a brooch from Marchélepot, Somme, now in the Ashmolean Museum's collection (MacGregor 1997, no. 65.11) where the knobs are set with garnets; the pin on this example, though, is of the more common iron. Silver (see analysis report below) appears to be a very unusual material for a pin, and may possibly point to a relatively early date.

Non-destructive X-ray fluorescence analysis was carried out at the British Museum by Susan La Niece and Antony Simpson (file no. 7474 21). The report reads as follows: "Non-destructive X-ray fluorescence analysis of the dirty surface of a mercury gilded radiate head brooch with niello inlay, from the Asgarby area, Lincolnshire, indicated an approximate silver content of 47% for the brooch and its hinge [bar], with approximately 15% each of copper, tin and lead. Less silver was detected in the surface of the pin (approximately 20% silver and 63% copper with other impurities)."


The date and precious metal content of the brooch mean that it falls under the criteria of Treasure as described in the Treasure Act 1996.

TVC Valuation 20/07/2011: £90

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: Regional importance

Class: Radiate Headed

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: The Collection, Lincoln
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2011T95


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Early
Subperiod to: Early
Ascribed Culture: Frankish
Date from: Circa AD 500
Date to: Circa AD 550

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 69.7 mm
Width: 30.9 mm
Thickness: 2 mm
Weight: 16.1 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Wednesday 1st January 2003 - Wednesday 31st December 2003

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Ms Charlotte Burrill
Identified by: Ms Charlotte Burrill
Secondary identifier: Mr Barry Ager

Other reference numbers

Other reference: Derby E7055
Treasure case number: 2011T95

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Secondary material: Gold
Completeness: Incomplete
Surface Treatment: Inlaid with niello

Spatial metadata

Region: East Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Lincolnshire (County)
District: East Lindsey (District)
To be known as: Asgarby Area

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
Discovery circumstances: With DARG (Derby MDC)
Current location: The Collection, Lincoln
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Character undetermined

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: DENO
Created: 8 years ago
Updated: 5 years ago

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