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The British Museum

LVPL-511952: goldearlymedievalbracteate

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Unique ID: LVPL-511952

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Treasure case 2013 T628 - Anglo-Saxon gold bracteate and gold armlet

Discovery: Both objects were found in the ploughsoil whilst metal-detecting a field in which previously 4 gold bracteates and a copper alloy bracelet in three fragments had been discovered. The new bracteate was found within an area of 10 square metres in which two A-bracteates and a B-bracteate (2009T657 and 2011T657) had been found. The location of the first B-bracteate (2004T297) from the same field has not been recorded with similar precision (Behr 2010). The gold armlet has been found ca 30 metres south of the bracteate cluster. Two fragments of the copper-alloy bracelet were found in close vicinity of the bracteate cluster, one fragment ca 100 north of it at the edge of the field (Behr - Pestell 2014).

The Bracteate

Description: The bracteate (IK 630, 3) is preserved complete with its loop, but heavily buckled. There is only a slight crack in the bend towards the bottom of the central image but no fissures or scratches. That is why the damage appears to have been inflicted intentionally by squeezing the pendant and did not occur only after its deposition. The loop is formed of a gold strip with asymmetrical low ridges and is fixed quite coarsely to the front and the back of the gold foil. It has only faint traces of wear. The gold foil is not surrounded with a framing wire, but small incisions along the edge on its front imitate an edging wire. Underneath the loop a thick beaded gold wire is attached in the shape of a V ending in spirals. Comparable wire applications in a similar V design are rare on gold bracteates. They have been found on three A-bracteates from St Giles' Field, Oxon. (IK 323), Sievern, Lower Saxony, Germany (IK 156) and terp Hitsum, Frisia, Netherlands (IK 76) (incompletely preserved) and on a D-bracteate from Dover Buckland, Kent (IK 582) (BM Inv. nr 1995,0102.174). The gold sheet is quite thick, still, faint impressions of the image in the centre made with a matrix die and the stamps in the two border zones are visible on the reverse. The central image is surrounded by two closely spaced concentric rings, followed by a zone that is decorated with spirals, then two further concentric rings and a zone stamped with two rows of triangles set against each other, each formed with concave sides and a central dot. The same border stamps have been used on the other two A-bracteates from Binham.

The central picture is die-identical with the first Binham A-bracteate (2009T657) (IK 630, 1) and most probably also with the second one (2011T657) (IK 630, 2) that is folded and its picture only known through an X-ray image. The image is better preserved than on the first Binham A-bracteate and shows little abrasion or wear. A male head in profile with bust is shown in the succession of the emperor's head on late Roman coins. The face with pronounced nose, mouth and round eye, the hairstyle with diadem and central jewel in the form of a spiral and the coat with stylised folds and brooch are closed to the Roman models but unlike Roman coins they are here drawn with contour lines and not shown in relief. In front of the face is a line branching into two ends possibly representing a snake. Surrounding the head are letters including Latin capitals and runes (?). They do not form a meaningful sequence.

Approximate diameter 50 mm, weight (before cleaning) 12.09 gr, metal composition (bracteate body): 88-91% gold, 8-11% silver and c. 1% copper; (suspension loop): 91-94% gold, 5-8% silver and c. 1% copper (Department of Conservation and Scientific Research, BM).


The find situation suggests that a deposition comprising 4, most probably 5 bracteates had been ploughed out. The bracelets may have been part of the same deposition or buried nearby in another deposition. No finds in the field suggest a ploughed-out early Anglo-Saxon cemetery. Depositions of several bracteates with or without further jewellery are common occurrences in the main distribution area of these pendants in southern Scandinavia, in Britain however the finds are - so far - unique. The new bracteate is again unusually heavy compared with other bracteate finds from Britain that tend to weigh under 5 gr. The combined weight of ca 93 gr of gold including the pendants and the gold bracelet makes this find the heaviest gold find in Anglo-Saxon England between the late Roman coin hoard from Patching, Sussex and the 7th century coin hoards from Sutton Hoo and Crondall.

Found with gold armlet - see LVPL-5146E4. Associated with record LVPL-43ADD1 (2009T657), now in Norwich Castle Museum.


Behr, C 2010, 'New Bracteate Finds from early Anglo-Saxon England', Medieval Archaeology 54.

Behr, C and Pestell, T 2014 forthcoming, 'The bracteate hoard from Binham - an early Anglo-Saxon central place?' With a note on the runic inscription on the B-bracteates by John Hines, Medieval Archaeology 58.

IK = Axboe, M, Düwel, K and Hauck, K (eds) 1985-89, Die Goldbrakteaten der Völkerwanderungszeit. Ikonographischer Katalog 1-3, Münstersche Mittelalter-Schriften 24 and Axboe, M and Heizmann, W (eds) 2011, Die Goldbrakteaten der Völkerwanderungszeit - Auswertung und Neufunde, RGA Ergänzungsband 40, Berlin - New York, pp. 893-999.

Find of note status

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

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: Norwich Castle Museum
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2013T628


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Early
Subperiod to: Early
Ascribed Culture: Anglo-Saxon style
Date from: Circa AD 450
Date to: Circa AD 600

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Height: 44.29 mm
Width: 35.33 mm
Thickness: 0.84 mm
Weight: 12.09 g
Diameter: 50 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Thursday 12th September 2013

Personal details

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Other reference numbers

SMR reference number: 40776
Treasure case number: 2013T628

Materials and construction

Primary material: Gold
Decoration style: Geometric
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

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

Spatial coordinates

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

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Discovery circumstances: found whilst metal detecting
Current location: Norwich Castle Museum
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

Author Publication Year Title Publication Place Publisher Pages Reference
Behr, C. 2010 New Bracteate Finds from Early Anglo-Saxon England Leeds Medieval Archaeology

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: LVPL
Created: 8 years ago
Updated: 4 years ago

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