HAMP-0ABB4E: Early early-medieval zoomorphic brooch

Rights Holder: Hampshire Cultural Trust
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Unique ID: HAMP-0ABB4E

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

An incomplete early early-medieval (Anglo-Saxon, c.500-600) gilded copper-alloy zoomorphic plate bird brooch with garnet eye detail, missing its pin. It appears to have Salin's Style I decoration.
The brooch is in the form of a stylised bird in profile, with a raptor-like hooked beak facing right and circular eye behind. Below the curved line of the wing flanks the back of the body and terminates in a short outward projection, while the front of the body extends into a trapezoidal projection; this presumably representing the feet. Below is a triangular tail.
To the reverse, longitudinally aligned, are the catchplate (centre, just below eye) and pin-lug (slightly to one side, behind tip of wing). The curl of the catchplate is missing and iron corrosion and staining surround the pin-lug. The reverse of the brooch is otherwise flat and undecorated.
The moulded decoration to the front retains much of its gilded surface. Raised edges outline the beak, which is further decorated with a central curving rib, and the line of the wing, which is further decorated with a line of punched triangles within it. A raised rib then runs from the neck, to the front of the body (which projects outwards and has an incurved outer edge) before extending into the tail, around and up the back of the body. Within this area are further narrow ridges, non-symmetrical in detail and apparently of Salin's Style I.
At the base of the tail is a trio of ridges, joined at one end and fanning outwards and upwards. Flanking the top ridge are four parallel 'lines', alternately of pellets and ridge. The topmost ridge then extends into probable Style I decoration, forming an S shape with a pellet (perhaps an eye) below the lower curve. Above, two elongated V-shapes arranged sideways flank each other, a central stem extending from the lower which bifurcates at its base. The uppermost arm is longest and reaches up to the base of the garnet-eye surround, as does the uppermost arm of the lower V, but this arm then turns back on itself to create an almost pointed-oval shape.
The feet are represented by raised ridges in a V-shape and inverted V-shape, the latter of which has longer arms than the former. The eye measures 5.6mm in diameter and is 3.8mm tall; the plate is otherwise 2.2mm thick. The eye is surrounded by a wall c.0.9mm thick. It is missing a small segment and the garnet setting is damaged at this point. The garnet is a dark purplish-red in colour.
The brooch measures 35.9mm in length, 14.2mm in max.width, 9.1mm in max.thickness/ depth and weighs 5.34g.
No direct parallel for the decoration has been found, although similar in-profile bird brooches have been recorded on this database (SF-3100F5, SUR-791CE8, KENT2475, IOW-055A79, SF-14851A, SUR-777B82, NMS-B913D5, SF-E28B03) and in West, 1998: 139, fig. 23 no. 7 (from Coddenham in Suffolk). Of the latter, the author suggests a Merovingian (Frankish) origin.
Jo Ahmet comments, 'Garnet eyes aren't hugely uncommon but they are often missing.Generally I see these as 450-550 in Kent, although usually seen as 450-600 in the rest of the country.The decoration on this one I'd suggest is probably 6th century.They also come on horse form, PUBLIC-213626' (pers. comm. August 2017).

Find of note status

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

Class: bird

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Early
Subperiod to: Early
Date from: Circa AD 500
Date to: Circa AD 600

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 35.9 mm
Width: 14.2 mm
Thickness: 9.1 mm
Weight: 5.34 g

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Ms Katie Hinds
Identified by: Ms Katie Hinds

Other reference numbers

Other reference: Hampshire Cultural Trust Object Entry Form WINCM 453

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Secondary material: Gem
Completeness: Incomplete
Surface Treatment: Gilded

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Hampshire (County)
District: East Hampshire (District)
To be known as: East Meon

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: Generated from computer mapping software
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: HAMP
Created: About one year ago
Updated: 5 months ago

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