PAS-5D5B56: Treasure case 2002 T119, Early Medieval silver terminal from Horncastle, Lincolnshire

Rights Holder: The British Museum
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Rights Holder: The British Museum
CC License:

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HELMET

Unique ID: PAS-5D5B56

Object type certainty: Possibly
Workflow status: Published Find published

Parcel-gilt terminal in the form of a semi-naturalistic boar's head with garnet eyes. The boar's head is cast with an elongated head and blunt ended snout. This is defined by three grooves which are gilded. Above these, the mouth, also gilded, is broadly drawn using linked grooves which end in sharply pointed tusks. The eyes, set high on the head, are small and made using tiny oval cabochon garnets set in a double collar of beaded gold filigree. Well above the eyes are two semicircular eyebrows cast in relief and set to either side of a raised crest which divides the skull. The skull is gilded and decorated to either side of the crest with a single crouched quadruped whose head is twisted backwards so that its looped jaws bite across its body and back foot. Both front and back foot have three clearly defined toes. The casting is hollow and still filled with earth and plant roots. The remains of three rivets survive - one towards the snout end of the fitting and two closely placed on a very slight rebate at the back of the head. Traces of gilding survive around the edge of the rebate showing that the terminal has not broken off a larger object, but is complete in itself.

The head is a fine piece of the Anglo-Saxon metalsmith's art. Stylistically, the head can be compared to the head of the boar on the Benty Grange helmet (below), particularly in the treatment of the lentoid eye and tusk and the crisp delineation of the crest. Its function is unclear but its scale suggests that it could have been a decorative terminal on a narrow helmet crest, in the same way that individual gilt-bronze dragon heads act as terminals to either end of the crest on the Sutton Hoo helmet.

The boar is a potent symbol of power and physical strength in early Anglo-Saxon England and can be seen on some of the finest objects from the period. A free-standing boar broods over the Benty Grange helmet. A profile boar's head, with a carefully defined tusk and a glittering cabochon garnet eye, forms the terminal of the silver inlaid, copper-alloy eyebrows on the Sutton Hoo helmet, and boars fill each end of the Sutton Hoo shoulder clasps.

Notes:

The Horncastle terminal is silver. I confirm that it contains a minimum of 10 per cent precious metal and therefore qualifies as Treasure under the 1996 Treasure Act.

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: City and County Museum, Lincoln
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2002T119

Chronology

Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Period from: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Period to: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Ascribed Culture: Anglo-Saxon
Date from: Circa AD 600
Date to: Circa AD 650

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 40 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Wednesday 1st May 2002

Personal details

Recorded by: Ms Caroline Barton
Identified by: Ms Angela Evans

Other reference numbers

Treasure case number: 2002T119

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Secondary material: Gem
Completeness: Complete
Surface Treatment: Gilded

Spatial data

No spatial data available.

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: PAS
Created: 6 years ago
Updated: 6 years ago

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