NMS-6F95B0: Early Early Medieval bead.

Rights Holder: Norfolk County Council
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Unique ID: NMS-6F95B0

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Description: Early Anglo-Saxon biconical gold bead made from a single spiral of plain unbeaded wire which measures c. 0.4-0.5mm in diameter. The wire is the only component of the the bead - there is no internal backplate - and the bead appears to have been heated, perhaps in the presence of solder, to slightly fuse the turns of the spiral.

There are about 12 turns to either half of the bead, and it may have been made from a separate strand for each half, the wires being joined in the centre. The bead is slightly asymmetric, the angle at the centre being more acute on one side than the other, which may have been caused by a clumsy joint between the two halves. The ends of the wire are neatly tapered and smoothed down. The gold is noticeably pale in colour.

Dimensions: Length 14.0mm. Maximum diameter 7mm, minimum diameter 4.0mm. Internal diameter of perforation c. 2.6-2.8mm. Weight 1.1g.

Discussion: This type of biconical wire bead is well known from necklaces dating to the second half of the seventh century (Geake 1997, 43). Similar examples, also of plain unbeaded wire, are found on the necklace from Finglesham grave 7 (Hawkes and Grainger 2006), and on the PAS database at PAS-CF6701 (2012T145). A biconical bead of slightly different shape, but using unbeaded gold wire embellished with occasional beaded lengths, is recorded on the PAS database at SF-40CB01 (2009T344). Examples using beaded wire are perhaps more common, with finds on the PAS database including the beads from Rowington, Warwickshire (PAS-2B1E44; 2002/T95) and North Down, Kent (KENT-7009B3; 2003/T207; Treasure Annual Report 2003, no.94, p.72, fig.94.2, p.214).

These beads were worn on high-status necklaces, such as the necklace from Desborough, Northamptonshire (Webster and Backhouse (eds) 1991, 28, fig 13). The Desborough necklace is strung with an alternating sequence of gold and cabochon garnet pendants, gold bulla pendants and biconical gold wire beads; at the centre is an equal-armed cross.

Date: Biconical wire beads were in use in the second half of the seventh century. The pale gold colour of this example suggests a date relatively late in the century.


As this object is made of more than 10% precious metal and is over 300 years old, it constitutes potential Treasure under the Treasure Act 1996.

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: Norfolk Museums Service
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2013T15


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Early
Subperiod to: Early
Ascribed Culture: Anglo-Saxon
Date from: Circa AD 650
Date to: Circa AD 700

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 14 mm
Weight: 1.1 g
Diameter: 7 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 1st December 2012 - Monday 31st December 2012

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mrs Erica Darch
Identified by: Mrs Erica Darch
Secondary identifier: Dr Helen Geake

Other reference numbers

SMR reference number: 16646
Other reference: ENMD012013
Treasure case number: 2013T15

Materials and construction

Primary material: Gold
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: Eastern (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Norfolk (County)
District: North Norfolk (District)
To be known as: Witton

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: Generated from computer mapping software
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: Norfolk Museums Service

References cited

Similar objects

Find number: SF-40CB01
Object type: BEAD
A complete biconical gold bead from a 7th-century necklace. It is hollow, and made from a single length of coiled unbeaded gold wire with sep…
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Find number: PAS-CF6701
Object type: BEAD
Description: A gold biconical bead from a necklace, made from a single coiled length of plain unbeaded wire. Both ends of the wire appear ori…
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Find number: LIN-18EEC1
Object type: NECKLACE
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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: NMS
Created: 6 years ago
Updated: 5 years ago

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