LVPL-30A793: Early medieval brooch

Rights Holder: National Museums Liverpool
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Rights Holder: National Museums Liverpool
CC License:

Rights Holder: National Museums Liverpool
CC License:

Rights Holder: National Museums Liverpool
CC License:

Rights Holder: National Museums Liverpool
CC License:

Rights Holder: National Museums Liverpool
CC License:

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Unique ID: LVPL-30A793

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

An almost complete copper alloy brooch of Early Medieval date, late 8th-9th century. The brooch is circular in plan and flat with zoomorphic and openwork decoration.

The brooch is decorated with a central 'kite-shaped' cross, the terminals of which are rounded, expanding out over the edge of the circumference of the plate. Each rounded terminal contains a circular groove within which is an undecorated area containing a circular rivet hole. Three of the outer incomplete rivets remain in the holes along with a central rivet while one is missing. It is likely that these rivets when complete would have formed 'bosses' and they are therefore decorative rather than functional.

A double circumferential groove surrounds the central boss within the lozenge or kite shaped panel. Surrounding the boss on each cross arm two animal head are seen from above, snout to snout (making a total of four). This motif can be found in the Book of Kells.

Within each angle of the cross (between and below each cross arm) is a semi-circular openwork panel. Each of these panels contains a rearward facing quadruped (animal with four feet) animal (or back-turned beasts). The back of the animal is arched and the body curves up and round in an S-shape towards the head. The mouth of the animal is open with the lower jaw resting on its arched back. The tail of the animal curls upwards in one and a half turns towards (but not connected with) the open mouth. The feet are long, flat and forward facing. Below the tail at the hip of the animal a decorative spiral mirrors the curl of the tail with one and a half turns facing downwards.

Within the body of the animal are four decorative grooves and ridges which taper to a downward facing point at the rump and neck of the animal. Breaking up these decorative grooves is another downwards turning spiral with one and a half turns at the front hip joint of the animal. This spiral is slightly larger than the rear one. A final spiral, (upwards turning with one and a half turns) is at the jaw of the animal. These decorative spirals all give the impression of movement within the animal.

The snout and lower lip is rounded and the mouth is open (with a sub-rectangular slot forming the open mouth). Above the snout is a rounded eye, behind which is a decorative triangular cut groove. Further triangular grooves between the eye and the spiral at the jaw indicate a cheekbone. Above the mouth on the upper snout are four lentoid cut grooves. The smaller of which towards the tip of the snout, may be intended to represent nostrils.

The whole of the outer face is decorated with the remains of gilding, with light green copper alloy visible in places. Damage to the object in the form of corrosion is most visible surrounding the rivets and along the arms of the cross.

The rear of the brooch is undecorated and un-gilded. At the top of the rear is a double lug with the remains of an axis bar. This would have held the pin which is now missing. At the opposite edge is an incomplete hook which would have formed the catchplate, this is sub-oval in cross-section and tapers to a rounded point. It appears to have broken during antiquity. The rear of three of the rivets are visible which have been hammered flat.

This brooch is in very good condition with very little abrasion or damage visible due to movement within the plough soil. This suggests that the object was not moved through the soil by ploughing.

Dimensions: 74mm in diameter, 33.1g.

Dr Kevin Leahy notes: The decoration on this brooch clearly resembles that seen in the Galloway hoard and it is likely to be of similar date: late 8th-9th century. The heads of the animals are reminiscent of the mount from the Thames at Westminster (Wilson, 1964, No. 45) and the St. Ninian's Isle Treasure, which looks Mercian.


Dr. Mark Redknap notes that the insular elements seen within the decoration of the brooch suggests a fusion of ideas.

Find of note status

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

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 750
Date to: Circa AD 1000

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Weight: 31.1 g
Diameter: 74 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 24th July 2016 - Sunday 24th July 2016

Personal details

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Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Manufacture method: Cast
Decoration style: Zoomorphic
Completeness: Incomplete
Surface Treatment: Gilded

Spatial metadata

Region: Wales (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Flintshire (Unitary Authority)
District: Flintshire (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: Nannerch

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: Generated from computer mapping software
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Discovery circumstances: Found while metal detecting
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

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

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