BERK-5A089D: Pendant

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
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Unique ID: BERK-5A089D

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

TREASURE CASE 2016 T661. A complete silver gilt heart-shaped religious pendant of early post-medieval date. The front of the pendant is made from a sheet of silver raised in repoussé style into a dome, and vertically grooved at the centre of the top to make a heart shape. It is soldered to a flat back-plate cut from a silver sheet with an invested edge of ten lobes around each side. A 'rope-twist' filigree wire border encircles the heart, concealing the join between the front and back plate.

A suspension loop at the top of the heart has been made by inserting a silver rod through a hole drilled through the back plate immediately above the 'V' of the heart, then soldered in place. This loop is set perpendicularly to the pendant. Another simple silver wire loop has been treaded through the main loop.

Decoration: The front of the pendant has the letters 'I H C' (in lower case,) engraved upon it. The letters stand for IH[VS] C[HRISTVS] (Jesus Christ). The entirety of the pendant has been gilded and it survives in quite good condition over both the back and front of the pendant, however it is mostly missing from the very front of the heart over the lettering and on the lower section of the back plate. This See NMGW-221F3A

Dimensions: height 29.4mm; width 21.4mm; depth/thickness 6.5mm; weight 6.5 grams.


Discussion: The following is taken mostly from treasure case 2012 W23 which relates to a very similar heart-shaped pendant with religious connotations and recorded as NMGW-221F3A. The similarity between these two pendants strongly suggests a contemporaneous date of c. 16th century AD. A dress fitting (dress hook) of similar form and date (see 2016 T26) is a heart-shaped hooked tag with identical back plate and is undoubtedly related to these heart-shaped pendants (see discussion below).

This pendant is related to gilded silver dress hooks with similar cusped back-plates (eg Caldecote, Warwickshire and Staxton, North Yorkshire; Gaimster, Hayward, Mitchell and Parker 2002, figs 4, 5), Parham in Suffolk (Thornton and Mitchell 2003, 486-7, and and examples in Wales from Wentlooge, Monmouthshire (Treasure Ref. No. 07.22), Llanfair, Vale of Glamorgan (Treasure Ref. No. 11.08) and Raglan, Monmouthshire (Treasure Ref. No. 11.07). The heart form and construction is particularly closely paralleled by dress hooks with tear-shaped backplates and raised hollow teardrop decorative panels such as those from Phillack, Cornwall and Landkey, Devon (dated to the sixteenth century; TAR 2004, nos 262, 263), and those from North Curry, Somerset and the Taunton area (TAR 2005/6, nos 661, 662). Documentary evidence indicates that these dress-hooks were popular in the sixteenth century (the latest reference in an inventory being dated 1598; Gaimster et al 2002, 184).

The heart was readily adopted from the fourteenth century as a symbol of passion, courage and devotion. Heart-shaped lockets of slightly later date commemorating Charles I, without the characteristic indented backplate, are better known, such as a silver heart-shaped plaque found east of Colchester, Essex, engraved with the motto 'prepared to follow me' and the initials 'CR', common during and after the Civil War in the seventeenth century (TAR 2007, no. 382). A similar heart-shaped object, perhaps a locket, engraved with the initials CR flanking a crown, was found near Wendover, Buckinghamshire in 2006 (TAR 2005/6, no. 779), while examples are to be found in the V&A (M.811-1926 and M.3-1958; Bury 1985, 7, plate 2a, c). A heart-shaped silver locket in two parts, forming a shallow compartment for a scent impregnated sponge, and engraved with a two-handled vase of flowers and the motto 'In thy sight is my delight' illustrates the amuletic version of some such items (Murdoch 1991, no. 127).

The heart spurting drops of blood was a devotional symbol during the medieval period, and one of the hallmarks of late medieval piety. Images of disembodied wounds became an international symbol of the consequences of sin, in particular the large wound inflicted on Christ's side by Longinus. The crude depiction of the wound is reminiscent of the five wounds of Christ on the late fifteenth-century gold ring known as the Coventry ring (British Museum, P&E AF897). Christ's blood was reputed to have healing powers alongside other amuletic charms.

In view of the sixteenth-century date, it is possible that the pendant represents an affirmation of faith during the Marian period of Britain's counter-Reformation. A similar heart-shaped pendant, without the engraved symbol of Christ's wound, has been reported from Ashby cum Fenby, North-East Lincolnshire (NLM-894835). Lacking in the engraved motif, it was attributed to a modern period, but in the light of the Welsh find this should be reassessed.

The will of Sir Mathew Cradock of Swansea dated 22 January 1529, includes a list of the jewels his wife Lady Katherine had brought with her when they married, including 'a hert of golde', and 'a nother hart of golde wt a floure delyce of diamontes in hym and a peerle hanging by hym which was a noche (brooch) of our Ladye'. The fleur de lis was an emblem of the Virgin Mary (lily as symbol of purity), and if set into a sacred heart it linked the incarnation with redemptive sacrifice (assuming that the 'hert' referred to is not the animal; Grey 2013-14, 89). The Fishguard find focuses on the symbolism of redemptive sacrifice, and provides a tangible example of the type of jewel referred to in the will, although it might be of a slightly later date.

Conclusion: Based on comparative examples, method of construction and appearance, a date between AD 1500-1600 would be correct for this object. Therefore, based on the object being over 300 years old and containing more than 10% precious metal by weight, it qualifies as Treasure under the stipulations of the 1996 Treasure Act.


Bury, S. 1985, An Introduction to Sentimental Jewellery (London).

Gaimster, D., Hayward, M., Mitchell, D. and Parker, K. 2002, 'Tudor silver gilt dress-hooks: a new class of treasure find in England', Antiquaries Journal 82, 157-96.

Grey, M. 2013-14, ''The Property of a Lady' the jewels of Lady Katherine Cradock', The Swansea History Journal 21, 82-93.

Murdoch, T. 1991, Treasures and Trinkets. Jewellery in London from pre-Roman times to the 1930s (London).

TAR 2004, Treasure Annual Report 2004 (DCMS).

TAR 2005/6, Treasure Annual Report 2005/6 (DCMS).

TAR 2007, Portable Antiquities and Treasure Annual Report 2007 (British Museum, published 2009).

Thornton, D and Mitchell, D. 2003, 'Three Tudor silver dress-hooks', Antiquaries Journal 83, 486-491.

Find of note status

This has been noted as an interesting find by the recorder.

Class: Heart-shaped

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: FLO
Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder after being disclaimed as Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2016T661


Broad period: POST MEDIEVAL
Period from: POST MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1500
Date to: Circa AD 1600

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Height: 29.4 mm
Width: 21.4 mm
Thickness: 6.5 mm
Weight: 6.5 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 7th August 2016

Personal details

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Other reference numbers

Other reference: OXPAS2016.338
Treasure case number: 2016T661

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Completeness: Complete
Surface Treatment: Gilded

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Hampshire (County)
District: East Hampshire (District)
Parish or ward: East Meon (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SU6624
Four figure Latitude: 51.01160357
Four figure longitude: -1.06058045
1:25K map: SU6624
1:10K map: SU62SE
Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: FLO
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: BERK
Created: 5 years ago
Updated: 5 years ago

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