BERK-9AE538: Early-medieval brooch: Disc brooch

Rights Holder: Oxfordshire County Council
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Unique ID: BERK-9AE538

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

TREASURE CASE 2017 T1032. NOT TREASURE. Description: An incomplete heavily silvered, or debased silver disc brooch of Anglo-Saxon date. The brooch has a wide plain rim within which is the decorative field. Four silver studs are set into recessed cells around the central floral motif. The floral motif is a raised design with the inserts now mising. The motif takes the form of four curved arms around a central circular cell. There is no trace of the type(s) of insert that would have adorned the central motif however it may have been garnet or glass which is commonly seen on brooches of this period. Surrounding the central motif and the four studs are fields of linear moulded decoration, all in a rope-work effect and consisting of four individual designs of interlace. Around the outer edge of the decorative panel is a circular border of the same rope-work effect. This central area has been gilded and much of this still survives.

The reverse of the brooch retains the double lug for the insertion of the pin, which from the corrosion adhering to lugs appears to have been of iron, although the pin is now missing. Opposite the lugs is the remains of the catchplate. An second area of iron corrosion adheres to the reverse a centimetre from the catch - this may be the remains of the point of the pin. The reverse of the brooch is silver in colour which again suggests that this brooch is made from debased silver rather than being of copper alloy and silver coated.

Discussion: Jo Ahmet (Finds Liaison Officer for Kent), comments: 'This brooch is interesting...the panel[s] of fairly well defined style II animal motifs would put this with Avent's Keystone Garnet Class 7. It must be noted that Class 7 is far more loosely grouped compared to earlier classes...and are only really linked by the clearer Style II motifs. Much of Avent's work is based on cemetery finds, admittedly disturbed but considering the drop in grave goods from the last quarter of the 6th century it is not surprising these later dated brooches are a bit vaguer. I think Avent's original dating of of [AD] 575-630 is still reasonable. I think this could roughly be grouped with Class 7.4 on the basis of a series of limbs connected with a fairly simplified ribbon-like body; incidentally those brooches of Class 7.4 also have wide plain outer rims. [However, this brooch] does have an additional setting and boss, so [the exact comparisons are a] bit tenuous.

Coroner's report 1st August 2018:

An incomplete cast metal disc brooch from the early medieval period. Non-destructive X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis of the surface metal on the back of the brooch identified the metal of the main body of the brooch as an alloy of copper and tin, with some lead and trace levels of other elements. The brooch has a wide plain rim surrounding a central decorative field, comprising four panels divided by four raised flat bosses, surrounding a cruciform arrangement of cells. Each of the four panels contains cast interlace motifs embellished with dots perhaps intended to give the appearance of beaded wire. Around the outer edge of the decorative panel is a raised circular border executed in the same manner. The four flat bosses are plain, with one (top right in photo) topped with an applied disc of sheet metal identified by XRF analysis as an alloy containing significantly more than 10% of silver, with some copper and trace levels of other elements. The cruciform cellwork comprises four curved arms around a central circular cell. All of the cells are now empty. The surface of the central decorative field is gilded. XRF analysis identified the presence of mercury, suggesting that the fire- or mercury-gilding technique had been used.

The reverse of the brooch retains a double lug for insertion of a now-missing pin, which from the corrosion adhering to lugs appears to have been of iron. Opposite the lugs are the remains of the pin's catchplate. A second area of iron corrosion is visible approximately a centimetre from the catch, perhaps the remains of the pin's tip.

Thickness: 4 mm
Weight: 24.8 g
Diameter: 43.8 mm

This brooch belongs to the type of inlaid disc brooches categorised by Avent (1975) and traditionally associated with southern England, especially Kent - although metal-detected finds have helped to expand their distribution in recent years. The Leafield brooch does not sit perfectly within any of Avent's categories, and thus should probably be grouped into his Class 7, 'Uncategorised'. These brooches are dated to between the sixth and seventh centuries, but the style of ornament on this brooch suggests a date towards the latter part of this range.

Seventh century

The precious metal portion of this object can be defined as a surface treatment, designed to be integral to the whole artefact rather than a distinct component. Accordingly, the precious metal component would need to make up at least 10% of the artefact for it to qualify as Treasure under the terms of the 1996 Treasure Act. In this case, it is unlikely that the precious metal component makes up 10% of the entire brooch and therefore it is suggested, for the Coroner's approval, that it does not constitute Treasure.

With thanks to Duncan Hook (Scientist, British Museum), Ian Richardson (Treasure Registrar, British Museum) and Jo Ahmet (FLO, Kent) for their contributions to this report.

Avent, R., 1975. Anglo-Saxon Garnet Inlaid Disc and Composite Brooches. British Archaeological Reports, British Series No. 11

Anni Byard
Finds Liaison Officer
Portable Antiquities Scheme

Dr. Sue Brunning
Curator, European Early Medieval Collections
Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory
The British Museum


Oxfordshire & West Berkshire PAS Record Sheet No: 440.

Find of note status

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

Subsequent actions

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

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2017T1032


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Early
Subperiod to: Early
Date from: Circa AD 575
Date to: Circa AD 600

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Thickness: 4 mm
Weight: 24.8 g
Diameter: 43.8 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 16th September 2017

Rally details.

This object was found at Detectival 2017

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Miss Anni Byard
Identified by: Miss Anni Byard
Secondary identifier: Mr Jo Ahmet

Other reference numbers

Other reference: 2017.315
Treasure case number: 2017T1032

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Manufacture method: Cast
Decoration style: Interlace
Completeness: Incomplete
Surface Treatment: Gilded

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Oxfordshire (County)
District: West Oxfordshire (District)
Parish or ward: Leafield (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SP3014
Four figure Latitude: 51.82382138
Four figure longitude: -1.56612665
1:25K map: SP3014
1:10K map: SP31SW
Grid reference source: Recorded at a rally
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: MRC / BM
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: About one year ago
Updated: 5 months ago

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