FAHG-123AB4: Gilded silver Carolingian mount

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
CC License:

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
CC License:

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Unique ID: FAHG-123AB4

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Rectangular Carolingian-style mount made of gilded silver and inlaid with niello. It has been cast in high relief, with detailed and well made leaf and flower decoration. The mount is convex, with tall sides and a hollowed, uneven reverse which bears four integrally cast attachment lugs, one at each corner and set longitudinally. Each is pierced, but the end of each lug is considerably worn, so that two of the piercings are now worn through, on diagonally opposite corners.

A central boss in the shape of a four-petalled flower is inlaid with a niello line down each petal, forming a saltire cross. From underneath each petal emerges a gilded oval leaf with grooves forming central and side veins. Between the petals, pointing to the long sides of the mount, are single small drop-shaped leaves. In the opposite spaces, extending towards the short sides of the mount, are pairs of longer arched leaves, again with grooved vein decoration, with smaller lobes (decorated with simpler but similar engraving) emerging from the centre of these pairs. At the corners of the mount are four bosses shaped like fleurs-de-lis, each again embellished with niello lines, now very worn. Between these corner bosses, the long sides are each decorated with a pair of four-petalled flowers or groups of four leaves, each with two horizontal niello lines across their squarish, ungilded centres and engraved vein decoration on each gilded petal/leaf. The short sides (one longer than the other) are each decorated with a single similar four-petalled flower or leaf, made larger on the longer side. A wavy relief line runs around the base of each corner, below the fleurs-de-lis.

All the lower areas of the mount are thickly gilded, but there is no evidence of gilding on the higher, niello-decorated areas. This may possibly be due to wear rather than an original incomplete gilding. On the reverse, the edge (the very lowest flat area) bears traces of gilding.

The mount is 36.9 mm long and tapers slightly from 27.0 mm wide at the wider end to 25.9 mm wide at the shorter end. The mount is c. 13 mm thick including the lugs.

The finder reported that the object was tarnished almost entirely black when found. He washed the object with a brush using water and washing-up liquid.

This mount can be compared with other Carolingian objects on the PAS database, also made of gilded silver and decorated in high relief with niello embellishments. Examples include ESS-BE9A25, YORYM-EAF943 and SF-E2FFD6. Similar copper-alloy examples include DENO-872273 and DENO-184477. All date from the mid 9th to the end of the 10th century AD.

Published in Thomas (2012; fig. 5, no. 16)


NB Due to the find circumstances of this object (purchased in 2011 at a car boot sale in Cambridgeshire) a decision has been made by the Cambridgeshire Coroner that it does not fall under the provisions of the Treasure Act 1996.

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
Ascribed Culture: Carolingian
Date from: Circa AD 850
Date to: Circa AD 1000

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 36.9 mm
Width: 27 mm
Thickness: 13 mm
Weight: 31.7 g

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Dr Helen Geake
Identified by: Dr Helen Geake

Materials and construction

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

Spatial metadata

Region: Eastern (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Cambridgeshire (County)

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: FAHG
Created: 8 years ago
Updated: 6 months ago

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