BERK-5105C9: Early-medieval Assemblage; Skeleton excavation

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ASSEMBLAGE

Unique ID: BERK-5105C9

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

TREASURE CASE 2015 T270. INITIAL RECORD OF DISCOVERY (see below for Curator's report).
A copper alloy long handled pan, associated silver mounts as well as box hinges and mounts were discovered by a metal detecting user on 28th March 2015. The detectorist stopped exploration and over the following few days a controlled archaeological excavation was carried out. The grave of an adult female was exposed, and a number of other artefacts were found and recorded in situ. The pan appears to have been in a wooden box, which was decorated with c.10 copper alloy sub-rectangular mounts (undecorated) and a rectangular copper alloy lock plate, decorated with five rows and an outer border of ring-and-dot decoration. Part of the metal lock mechanism survives as a corroded lump. Copper alloy rivets from the lock plate and from the box mounts were recovered. Copper salt has preserved wood in some areas. There may also have been a deposit of seeds to the left of the skull, possibly also within the confines of the box.

The skeleton was very well preserved. Oriented south - north, with the head to the south, the box was located to the left of the head. Around the neck was a fine copper alloy chain possibly associated with a ring-headed pin. Another round-headed pin was discovered about level with the nasal cavity and was initially interpreted as a shroud, or head-scarf pin.

Other grave goods were present within the burial. A large amber bead was found between the left arm and rib cage. Just below the pelvis was a very large, faceted rock crystal on an iron chain, possibly a pendant or amulet suspended around the waist. Upon lifting the skeleton, a large antler disc was located beneath the spine roughly in the middle of the back. There is a large central perforation and several smaller holes around the outer edge. This may have been another amulet, or an item of dress (or hair) accessory.

The burial was laid with the left hand situated on the pelvis, and the right hand apparently placed on top of a rock. It is likely that there were other organic objects to the left of the body, but neither these, nor any trace, survives.

In all there were c. 36 objects recovered, plus several fragments of these (i.e. iron chains, rivets etc). At least one of these objects is silver, and because the burial is likely to be 6th or 7th century AD and therefore over 300 years old, this and the other grave goods (by association) constitute Treasure under the stipulations of the Treasure Act 1996. Research ongoing.

Notes:

What follows is the offical report on the grave goods for HM Coroner:

Report for HM Coroner, by Dr. Sue Brunning, Curator, Insular Early Medieval Collections, Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory, The British Museum

Description: Assemblage of artefacts from an early Anglo-Saxon furnished burial. Each item is described below, numbered by Small Finds Number assigned by the excavators.

SF1: Copper-alloy skillet or patera

A copper-alloy skillet or patera, comprising a hemispherical bowl with a long, integral handle. The bowl has vertical walls curving gently towards a low 'waist', just above the slightly-flattened base. It has a flat horizontal rim which, at the back, extends into the handle. The handle is also flat in plan, curving inwards from the bowl and then continuing with parallel sides towards the end, where it flares outwards again into a fan-shaped terminal. The handle slopes downwards slightly from the bowl, then upwards again to give a shallow, diagonal angle. The edges of the handle have a slight lip. The underside of the skillet is plain. Other details, such as potential evidence of soldering for mounts, is obscured by earth and may or may not be revealed after conservation.

Dimensions:

Length (overall): Approx. 310mm

Diameter (bowl): 111.28mm

Depth (bowl): 41mm

Weight: Not possible to weight due to scale malfunction

This vessel appears to fit into a small group of copper-alloy skillets known from Roman and Anglo-Saxon contexts, defined by their flat handles, lack of feet and hemispherical bodies. Anglo-Saxon examples tend to be shallower, rounder and with flat rims comparable to hanging bowls. Examples have been found in seventh- to eighth-century Anglo-Saxon graves, for instance at Salisbury Racecourse and Rodmead Down, Wiltshire; Newton Lodge, Warwickshire; and Desborough (British Museum 1876,0504.6) and Cransley, Northamptonshire (Geake 2006, p. 283 with references). In 2005, a further example was found in a shallow ditch at at Shalfleet on the Isle of Wight in a shallow ditch (Portable Antiquities Scheme database IOW-0D5540; Geake 2006). It is similar in form to the Rollright skillet, although the latter is larger more generally. The Shalfleet example is also decorated with a mount (cross-shaped, on the handle) and was found to have a hole in the centre of the bowl, perhaps for a similar mount to that discovered inside the Rollright skillet.

SF2: Silver disc-shaped mount

A circular silver mount with a central setting. The mount has a raised flange incised around the circumference with semi-circular motifs. This surrounds a recessed field which is incised with decoration, partially obscured by copper-alloy corrosion. In the very centre is a small, circular setting containing a flat, reddish stone, perhaps a garnet or glass. The back of the mount is plain, the rim recessed.

Dimensions:

Diameter: 24.69mm

Weight: 1.96g

The excavation notes record this mount as being found inside the skillet. It may have been a decorative mount similar to that observed on the Shalfleet skillet described above. The copper-alloy corrosion visible on the mount supports an association with the skillet.

SF3-4: Copper-alloy hinged clasps

A pair of copper-alloy clasps, found unstratified, possibly from a wooden box or casket. Each clasp comprises two triangular plates with a hinge at the broad ends, through which a pin passes to connect the two plates together. Both are broken in half behind the hinge. Each triangular plate has a rivet-hole at each corner, some of which retain the corroded remains of an iron rivet. One of the clasps' plates appears to have been repaired, with a rectangular patch riveted to the underside and a second triangular plate attached to the top. The front surfaces of the clasps appear to be plain, but would benefit from further close analysis to confirm this. Mineralised organic remains, possibly wood, are visible on the reverse of both clasps.

Dimensions:

Clasp 1:

Length: 67.64mm (approx., joined)

Width: 21.94mm (max)

Weight: 10.86g

Clasp 2 (repaired):

Length: 70.90mm (approx., joined)

Width: 20.99mm (max)

Weight: 12.99g

A small number of hinged clasps are known from early Anglo-Saxon furnished burials. They appear to have performed various functions. Small examples with rivets passing through them were probably clasps for wooden boxes or caskets, such as a silver one from Desborough, Northamptonshire (British Museum, 1876,0504.3) which is more decorative but very similar in form to the Rollright clasps. A closed parallel is provided by a pair of similar copper-alloy clasps in the bed burial at Swallowcliffe Down, Wiltshire (Speake 1989, p. 24, fig.24h-i). It is likely, given the presence of multiple fragments likely to be from a wooden casket, that the Rollright clasps performed a similar function.

SF5: Silver mount

A mount of flat silver sheet, comprising a crescent-shaped plate with a sub-semi-circular projection. The crescent-shaped plate has a central circular perforation and appears to have an incised border, although the condition of the piece precludes a more detailed description. The sub-semi-circular projection has two rounded lobes flanked by tiny points, those on the left being more complete. Traces of apparently curvilinear decoration are just visible. The back of the mount is lumpy with what appears to be copper alloy corrosion.

Dimensions:

Length: 39.91mm

Width: 26.41mm

Weight: 1.48g

This mount was described in the excavation paperwork as unstratified but also as coming from the skillet. The copper-alloy corrosion visible on the piece supports the association; as does the shape, which would fit well on the fan-shaped terminal of the skillet's handle.

SF6: Curved silver fragments

Seven silver fragments, found unstratified. The group comprises three long fragments and four short fragments. Each piece shows a slight curvature, suggesting they once formed a ring-shaped object. Most have signs of copper-alloy corrosion and potentially solder on the back. Most are plain on the front, but two of the shorter fragments have incised decoration comprising semi-circles running along the edges. Their width is very close to the plain fragments, so it seems plausible that the fragments all derive from the same artefact.

Dimensions:

Length: min. 11.18mm to max. 47.31mm

Width: 5.88mm (approx., each)

Weight: 2.99g

While it is not possible to identify for certain from what these fragments derive, it is possible that they were associated with the skillet - perhaps the rim.

SF7: Copper-alloy mount

A roughly oblong strip of copper-alloy with a copper-alloy rivet through each terminal. The ends of each rivet are bent.

Dimensions:

Length: 20.42mm

Weight: 0.94g

The strip may have been associated with a wooden box, along with the other similar mounts in the burial. For comparison, see box mounts from the bed burial at Swallowcliffe Down, Wiltshire, dated to the seventh century (Speake 1989, p. 24, fig. 24d-g).

SF8: Two iron nails

Two iron nails, much corroded. One (Nail 1) is slightly bent at one end. The FLOs' paperwork describes them as box nails, and comments that the precise find location is uncertain - possibly from the backfill.

Dimensions:

Nail 1 - Length: 17.23mm

Weight: 0.42g

Nail 2 - Length: 16.37mm

Weight: 0.35g

SF9: Copper-alloy mount

A roughly oblong strip of copper-alloy with one broken terminal and a copper-alloy rivet through the surviving terminal.

Dimensions:

Length: 20.64mm

Weight: 0.83g

The strip may have been associated with a wooden box, along with the other similar mounts in the burial. For comparison, see box mounts from the bed burial at Swallowcliffe Down, Wiltshire, dated to the seventh century (Speake 1989, p. 24, fig. 24d-g).

SF10: Seeds

Found level with bottom of box.

SF11: Copper-alloy mount

Two fragments of copper alloy strip, each with a copper-alloy rivet passing through their surviving terminals.

Dimensions:

Strip 1:

Length: 33.20mm

Weight: 43g

Strip 2:

Length: 17.05mm

Weight: 44g

The strips may have been associated with a wooden box, along with the other similar mounts in the burial. For comparison, see box mounts from the bed burial at Swallowcliffe Down, Wiltshire, dated to the seventh century (Speake 1989, p. 24, fig. 24d-g).

SF12: Copper alloy pin

A small copper alloy pin. The shaft is circular in section and bent just over halfway down. It has a globular head. Found in in front of the skull.

Dimensions:

Length: 33.78mm (bent)

Weight: 0.41g

This pin could derive from a linked pair, along with the chain links (SF18) and other pin (SF20) in the burial. It lacks the perforated feature of the other pin, which would have linked it to the chain. This feature may have broken off, but it is not possible to see due to the condition of the object. This could perhaps be verified after cleaning. See discussion of linked pins under entry SF20.

SF13: Copper-alloy plate and one rivet

A flat copper-alloy plate and two fragments of a rivet. The plate is rectangular in shape with a rectangular aperture cut into it, slightly off the centre line but roughly in the centre. There is another rectangular aperture towards one end, filled with iron corrosion. There are piercings for three rivets along each short edge and two additional piercings along each long edge. Some of these retain the remains of rivets, others are now empty. One face of the plate is decorated with ring-and-dot motifs. These run around all four edges of the plate, with three more horizontal rows running across the plate at intervals. The back of the plate is plain.

Dimensions:

Length: 80.83mm

Width: 46.76mm

Weight: 29.62mm

The plate is likely to represent part of a lock mechanism for a wooden box or casket, and is probably associated with the other box fittings in the burial. It is very similar in both form and size to the lock mechanism excavated from the bed burial on Swallowcliffe Down, Wiltshire (Speake 1989, p. 24, fig. 24c). Boxes of this type are generally dated to the seventh century (Speake 1989, p. 29, with references).

SF14: Tooth

From right side of skull.

SF15: Iron fragment

Corroded fragment of iron, roughly rectangular in shape with a rounded end. Distorted by corrosion, but possibly originally rectangular in section. Traces of mineralised wood or wood impressions are visible. From an unknown artefact. Found in the area of the head, but precise location uncertain.

Dimensions:

Length: 42.63mm

Width: 19.93mm

Weight: 12.83g

SF16: Fragment

Not seen.

SF17: Iron fragment

Corroded fragment of iron, roughly rectangular in shape with a projection on one side.From an unknown artefact. Excavators comment that it may belong with SF13.

Dimensions:

Length: 15.76mm

Width: 10.74mm

Weight: 1.63g

SF18: Copper-alloy chain links

Links from a copper-alloy chain, some still joined together and others now detached. The links are figure-of-eight in form.

Dimensions:

Weight: 1.33g (weight in the finds bag)

Given the form of the chain, the presence of two pins (one perforated) and the chain's recorded findspot in the neck area of the deceased (Geake 1997, p. 35), it seems probable that the chain is part of a linked pin set with pins SF12 and 20 (see separate entries). A number of surviving examples have figure-of-eight links (Geake 1997, p. 36), including a set from Lechlade grave 1092 (Ross 1991, fig. 5.30.b). Linked pin sets have been dated to the seventh century (Hines and Bayliss 2013, p. 370).

SF19: Copper-alloy mount and wood fragments

Multiple fragments of riveted copper-alloy strips, wood fragments and earth. Possibly associated with a wooden box.

SF20: Copper-alloy pin

A small copper-alloy pin. The shaft is circular in section and tapers towards the point. At the head is a globular knob, above which is a tiny perforated loop.

Dimensions:

Length: 42.30mm

Weight: 0.38g

This pin is probably part of a linked set with the other small copper alloy pin (SF12) and chain (SF18) in the burial (see separate entries). They are classified as Type PI2-a by Hines and Bayliss (2013, p. 225) and dated to the seventh century, perhaps more mid-to later although earlier examples are known (p. 370). Linked pins comprise Ross's Type LXIV (1991, pp. 252-267) and fit best into his sub-type ii.a, which are cast and have knobs below the loop. A good parallel for pin SF20 is from Winnall II, grave 7 (Ross 1991, pp. 261-262 and fig. 5.31.f, with references) which is almost precisely the same size and form. A larger set made from silver was discovered in grave 8 at the same site, also with the same form (Ross 1991, p. 261 and fig. 5.31.i). Linked pins are also discussed in detail by Geake (1997, pp. 35-36). They appear to have been primarily associated with female burials (Hines and Bayliss 2013, p. 225).

SF21: Copper-alloy mount

A fragment of copper-alloy strip.

Dimensions:

Length: 20.54mm

Weight: 1.58g

Perhaps associated with a wooden box, along with the other similar mounts in the burial. For comparison, see box mounts from the bed burial at Swallowcliffe Down, Wiltshire, dated to the seventh century (Speake 1989, p. 24, fig. 24d-g).

SF22: Copper-alloy mount and rivet fragments

Fragment of a rectangular copper-alloy strip, bent, and copper-alloy fragments of circular section, probably from one or more rivets. Also fragments of earth and possibly wood in the bag.

Dimensions:

Length (of strip): 39.80mm

Weight (combined): 1.89g

These fragments are perhaps associated with a wooden box, along with the other similar mounts in the burial. For comparison, see box mounts from the bed burial at Swallowcliffe Down, Wiltshire, dated to the seventh century (Speake 1989, p. 24, fig. 24d-g).

SF23: Amber bead

A large amber bead, globular in shape with a flattened top and bottom. It has a circular perforation through the centre, which is now filled with earth.

Dimensions:

Diameter: 28.34mm

Thickness: 23.31mm

Weight: 12.20g

Amber beads are known from early Anglo-Saxon burials, often forming part of necklaces but sometimes found singly near the waist in female graves (Meaney 1981, p. 68). The amber bead from Rollright was found by the left ribs, so fits broadly into this picture. Meaney (1981, pp. 67-71) discusses amber as having potential amuletic and magical qualities for the early Anglo-Saxons.

SF24: Rock-crystal bead

A large, faceted rock-crystal bead together with fragments of iron, probably from a suspension device. The bead is biconical in form with one end taller than the other. Both ends have eight facets, creating an octagonal plan for the bead. It has a central vertical perforation that is filled with earth and iron corrosion, presumably from the suspension device. Earth on the surface prevents a detailed description of the bead's condition, but a number of chips are visible.

Dimensions:

Width: 40.65mm

Height: 26.68mm

Weight: 53.59g

Large, faceted rock-crystal beads are relatively frequent finds in early Anglo-Saxon burials, mostly dating to the mid-later sixth century but with some earlier and later examples known (Meaney 1981, p. 77). The most frequent shape is pentagonal, but octagonal examples are recorded for instance from Brighthampton grave 22, also in Oxfordshire (Meaney 1981, p. 78, fig. III.l), which is quite similar in form to the Rollright bead. Rock-crystal beads were suspended from chatelaines, necklaces or may have been used as spindle-whorls, and are thought to have had an amuletic function (Meaney 1981, pp. 78-82). This bead was found by the pelvis of the deceased, and as such may have been suspended there or in a bag attached to a belt.

SF25: Box mount

Multiple fragments of riveted copper-alloy strips, wood fragments and earth. Possibly associated with a wooden box. For comparison, see box mounts from the bed burial at Swallowcliffe Down, Wiltshire, dated to the seventh century (Speake 1989, p. 24, fig. 24d-g).

SF26: Copper rivet and wood

Not seen.

SF27: Copper-alloy mount

A copper-alloy strip, rectangular in shape with rivets through each terminal. The strip is now bent in the centre, creating an arched shape.

Dimensions:

Length: 42.7mm

Weight: 77g

The strip is perhaps associated with a wooden box, along with the other similar mounts in the burial. For comparison, see box mounts from the bed burial at Swallowcliffe Down, Wiltshire, dated to the seventh century (Speake 1989, p. 24, fig. 24d-g).

SF28: Copper-alloy mount and rivet fragments

Fragment of a rectangular copper-alloy strip and three copper-alloy fragments of circular section, probably from one or more rivets.

Dimensions:

Length (of strip): 17.01mm

Weight: 0.15g

They are perhaps associated with a wooden box, along with the other similar mounts in the burial. For comparison, see box mounts from the bed burial at Swallowcliffe Down, Wiltshire, dated to the seventh century (Speake 1989, p. 24, fig. 24d-g).

SF29: Antler disc

A circular disc of antler, now in three pieces. The disc is smooth and thicker towards the centre than the edges. It has a circular perforation through its centre. Encrustation with earth makes it difficult to identify if it is decorated on either side, but a few small holes may or may not represent some form of decoration.

Dimensions:

Diameter: 68.59mm (approx., broken state)

Weight: 28.23g

Flat, perforated antler discs are known from a number of sixth- to seventh-century female graves in England, some associated with chatelaines (Geake 1997, p. 57). Examples include those from Polhill, Kent grave 43 (illustrated in Geake 1997, fig. 4.17) and Buckland, Dover in Kent, grave 250 (Parfitt and Anderson 2012, p. 160). They may have been thought to have an amuletic significance, and are discussed by Meaney (1981, pp. 139-142) in this context; although Riddler (in Parfitt and Anderson 2012, pp. 160-161) poses a potential practical function and cites further examples. Fragments of further examples are recorded on the PAS database, numbers SF-67E934 and SF-9FF146.

SF30: Copper-alloy mount and rivet fragment

A small piece of copper-alloy strip and bent rivet fragment, found unstratified.

Dimensions:

Mount fragment:

Length: 7.50mm

Width: 5.43mm

Weight: 0.04g

Rivet fragment:

Length: 15.02mm

Weight: 0.07g

The pieces are perhaps associated with a wooden box, along with the other similar mounts in the burial. For comparison, see box mounts from the bed burial at Swallowcliffe Down, Wiltshire, dated to the seventh century (Speake 1989, p. 24, fig. 24d-g).

SF31: Two fragments from a ?silvered mount

Two fragments of silver or a silvered copper-alloy sheet, perhaps from a mount. One fragment (Fragment 1) is roughly semi-circular in form, with the remains of an incised curvilinear design on one surface and a fragment of copper alloy on the other. The other fragment (Fragment 2) is roughly rectangular in form but with evidence of true curved edges on each side, and an incised curvilinear design emanating from a triangular motif in the centre.

Dimensions:

Fragment 1 (semi-circular) - Length: 14.73mm

Width: 7.14mm

Weight: 0.26g

Fragment 2 (sub-rectangular) - Length: 14.07mm

Width: 11.58mm

Weight: 0.27g

The excavators' notes state that this piece was found unstratified. It is possible that it was a mount attached to the skillet, similar to the other mounts fragments in the assemblage.

SF32: Fragments of copper-alloy mount

Two pieces of copper-alloy strip, rectangular in shape. Each has one intact terminal, which is rounded and pierced by a rivet. The two pieces do not join, but may originally have belonged to the same length of copper-alloy strip. Found unstratified.

Dimensions:

Fragment 1 (longer):

Length: 26.32mm

Weight: 38g

Fragment 2 (shorter):

Length: 16.77mm

Weight: 23g

The pieces are perhaps associated with a wooden box, along with the other similar mounts in the burial. For comparison, see box mounts from the bed burial at Swallowcliffe Down, Wiltshire, dated to the seventh century (Speake 1989, p. 24, fig. 24d-g).

SF33: Iron fragment

Long strip-like iron fragment from an unidentified object. Remains of mineralised ?wood possibly present. Found unstratified.

Dimensions:

Length: 41.28mm

Width: 9.52mm

Weight: 4.23g

Date: Seventh century

References:

Geake, H., 1997. The Use of Grave Goods in Conversion Period England AD 600-850. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports

Geake, J., 2006. Medieval Britain and Ireland in 2005. Medieval Archaeology 50, pp. 271-400, esp. pp. 283-286

Hines, J. and Bayliss, A., 2013. Anglo-Saxon Graves and Grave Goods of the 6th and 7th Centuries AD: A Chronological Framework. London: The Society for Medieval Archaeology. The Society for Early Medieval Archaeology Monograph 33

Meaney, A., 1981. Anglo-Saxon Amulets and Curing Stones. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports, British Series no. 96

Parfitt, K., and Anderson, T., 2012. Buckland Anglo-Saxon Cemetery, Dover. Excavations 1994. Canterbury: Canterbury Archaeological Trust

Ross, S., 1991. Dress pins from Anglo-Saxon England: Their Production and Typochronological Development. Unpublished DPhil thesis, University of Oxford

Speake, G., 1989. A Saxon Bed Burial on Swallowcliffe Down. London: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England.

Find of note status

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

Subsequent actions

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

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2015T270

Chronology

Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Period from: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Period to: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 550
Date to: Circa AD 750

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 36

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 28th March 2015 - Monday 6th April 2015

Personal details

This information is restricted for your access level.

Other reference numbers

Other reference: 2014.908 / 2015.034
Treasure case number: 2015T270

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Secondary material: Copper alloy
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: West Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Warwickshire (County)
District: Stratford-on-Avon (District)
To be known as: Long Compton CP

Spatial coordinates


Grid reference source: GPS (From FLO)
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 0.1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: Ashmolean Museum
General landuse: Grassland, Heathland
Specific landuse: Disturbed

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: BERK
Created: 7 years ago
Updated: 4 years ago

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