SOM-6E38BD: Anglo Saxon Button Brooch

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
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Rights Holder: Somerset County Council
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Unique ID: SOM-6E38BD

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

A cast copper-alloy brooch, either a small shallow saucer brooch or a Suzuki Class B or C button brooch of early early-medieval date (5th - 6th century AD) with style I decoration. The brooch is circular and 18.15mm in diameter and weighs 2.23 grams. The rim is upturned and offset 1mm within this is a further concentric circle of raised copper that surrounds the central design. The raised rim and raised central design are both c.2mm thick. The design is not a facing mask, the most common design on button brooches and is difficult to read clearly, it appears combine elements of the profile face, as seen on IOW-AABE51 and an interlaced animal, as seen on DOR-8022C1, which has been categorised as a small saucer brooch.

To the top right corner is a thick curved element, formed of a thicker outer line and thinner inner, following the curved side of the brooch (red), which ends at the left in a possible bent leg which could also be interpreted as a nose (green), on the right the thin lines continues in a second bent leg or crest (red). Below the centre of this curve us a pointed oval eye (blue) with a raised cheek below (pink) and to the left and below and to the right a small bird head (turqouise), circular with a central dot for an eye and double projecting beak. This eye, bird head and cheek form the center of the design with the lower part filled with a double curved line crossed by a second double line at its right end (orange). The green section could also be read a bird head with the other parts forming its body, wings and leg. This ambiguity and multiple readings being typical of Style I.

The reverse of the brooch has the remains of two sub-trapezoidal lugs at 3 and 9 o'clock respectively. The pin lug is 2.4mm thick and projects 1.7mm from the plate. The upper edge is broken with the piercing lost, the break is smooth and worn. The catch plate lug is 2.4mm thick and projects 3.4mm from the back. The latter's tip is also curled to better catch the pin that would have held the button in place. The iron pin is lost to corrosion; a trace of corrosion product is present adjacent to the catch plate lug and between it and the pin lug.

The brooch has a dark green patina with some patches of lighter white brown corrosion product. There is no evidence of gilding but there is a dark brown surface deposit remaining in the indented parts of the design.

As described in IOW-AABE51: Button brooches are distinguished by their small size and typically depict anthropomorphic face-masks. They may have been used in different ways as dress fasteners. It is thought that they may have been used singly rather than in pairs like the similar but larger saucer brooches. Button brooches are found throughout much of southern England, although they are rarer further West and date between the later fifth and mid-sixth centuries. The use of Style I suggesting a date of c. AD 480 to 570.

Find of note status

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

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Early
Subperiod to: Early
Ascribed Culture: Anglo-Saxon
Date from: Circa AD 480
Date to: Exactly AD 570

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Weight: 2.23 g
Diameter: 18.2 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 1st September 2018 - Saturday 1st December 2018

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Edward Caswell
Identified by: Mr Edward Caswell
Secondary identifier: Ms Laura Burnett

Other reference numbers

Other reference: SCC Receipt 019430

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: South West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Dorset (County)
District: West Dorset (District)
To be known as: Piddletrenthide CP

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: From finder
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: SOM
Created: 4 months ago
Updated: 16 days ago

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