SUR-0C90A0: Early medieval: Unidentified zoomorphic object

Rights Holder: Berkshire Archaeology
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Unique ID: SUR-0C90A0

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

A copper alloy zoomorphic terminal of probable late early medieval date, cAD900-1050 and of uncertain precise purpose. The object takes the form of an animal head with pointed snout and prominent pointed ears, deeply drilled eye hollows (perhaps for a glass inlay) and two drilled shallow nostril hollows. The upper face of the terminal is rounded and the lower face is flat. The attachment end of the terminal is hollow, although it is not clear how far the hollow extends. Iron corrosion partly fills the hollow and also extends onto the lower, flat, surface. The head is decorated with a series of strap-like bands defined by pairs of engraved lines. A band extends from in front of the ears to the snout and there are five pairs of bands which cross the head and neck transversely, four of which do so diagonally.

Leslie Webster kindly comments:

I think it must be late Saxon - 10th - or more probably, 11th -century, not earlier. In a very general and crude way it is vaguely reminiscent of animals terminating helmet crests; but in the execution and decoration, it's very different - and the narrow slot at the attachment end shows that it was intended to fit onto something flat and narrow, not a helmet crest. The upper iron stain on the underside looks like the stub of a rivet, which if so, suggests that it could have been fixed onto a leather strap. The decoration gives a hint - to me it looks like the schematic representation of a horse's bridle, so perhaps the mount was an attachment to horse harness of some kind, and the head itself, with its notably pricked ears, might be a crude representation of a horse's head. Could the iron stain around the attachment end be associated with a rivet, and an iron plate reinforcing an attachment to a leather strap, rather than the remains of an iron fitting which was inserted into it? Even if it was definitely fitted onto a flat iron rod, it might still be something to do with horse gear and horse transport.

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Late
Subperiod to: Late
Date from: Circa AD 900
Date to: Exactly AD 1050

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 31.5 mm
Width: 13.8 mm
Thickness: 7.7 mm
Weight: 6.92 g

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mrs Margaret Broomfield
Identified by: Mrs Margaret Broomfield
Secondary identifier:

Other reference numbers

Other reference: B15-325

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Secondary material: Iron
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: Eastern (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Essex (County)
District: Colchester (District)

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: SUR
Created: 3 years ago
Updated: 13 days ago

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