BERK-07A2A4: Anglo-Saxon silver gilt mount.

Rights Holder: West Berkshire
CC License:

Image use policy

Our images can be used under a CC BY attribution licence (unless stated otherwise).


Unique ID: BERK-07A2A4

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

An Anglo-Saxon zoomorphic terminal made of silver and partly gilded The terminal is hollow-cast, with a pyramidal socket of rectangular section which would perhaps originally have held a wooden rod. On the narrower sides are two 4mm-long tapering extensions, which could have accommodated ridges on the rod. These are also zoomorphic, and although worn, the shape of the muzzles, the eyes and upright ears can still be made out. A single large silver rivet with a rounded head is still in situ across the socket, running between the wider sides of the rectangle.

The tapering end is in the shape of an animal's head, probably intended to represent a dragon. Seen from above, there are large drop-shaped eyes which taper into spirals. These spirals may be intended as ears; they turn inwards and then outwards again to end in two lobes which hang down the sides of the terminal. The contour of the eyes, the eye sockets, spirals and lobes are all gilded. Above the ears is the domed head of the rivet.

The long muzzle of the animal is divided in half by a gentle ridge running along the top, with three curving grooves on either side. Two very elongated nostrils fill in the space at the end of the top of the muzzle; the nostrils and the curving grooves are gilded. The mouth is a bold, slightly curving line along each side of the terminal, ending above what may be a protruding rolled-up tongue.

The side view of the terminal shows a 9mm long neck, embellished by the lobes and the small animal terminals described above. A ridge then forms the cheek. In front, the sides of the muzzle taper and are decorated with a bold curving gilded groove representing the mouth. This ends above what may be a rolled-up tongue, delineated by more gilded grooves in another double spiral.

The sides of the terminal are embellished with a border of minute dots, and there are similar borders underneath around the trapezoid face of the socket and the sharply attenuated throat of the animal. The base of the object sits comfortably on a flat surface.

Dimensions: length: 24.56mm; width: 13.59mm; thickness: 10.91mm; weight: 9.88g.

A good comparison for the furrowed muzzle with small nostrils, and the drop-shaped eyes with double spirals above, can be found on the animal terminal on the front of the ridge of the Coppergate, York helmet (L Webster and J Backhouse (eds) The Making of England (1991) no. 47). A parallel for the rolled tongue touching the throat can be found on the possible scabbard fitting from the Thames (Webster and Backhouse (eds) 1991, no. 179). These parallels date the terminal to the end of the 8th century. Lines of small dots are commonly found on Anglo-Saxon objects of this date (for example, the finger-ring from the Thames; Webster and Backhouse (eds) 1991, no. 174). The West Ilsley terminal, although small, is of fine workmanship, and is a worthy addition to the widely distributed group of top-quality late eighth-century objects.

Find of note status

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

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: West Berkshire Museum
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2005T167


Broad period: EARLY MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Middle
Subperiod to: Middle
Date from: AD 775
Date to: AD 800

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 24.56 mm
Width: 13.59 mm
Thickness: 10.91 mm
Weight: 9.88 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 1st January 2005 - Tuesday 1st February 2005

Personal details

This information is restricted for your access level.

Other reference numbers

Other reference: 2005T167
Treasure case number: 2005T167

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Manufacture method: Cast

Surface Treatment: Gilded

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: West Berkshire (Unitary Authority)
District: West Berkshire (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: West Ilsley

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Discovery circumstances: Found about 4 inches down in very stony/chalky land; 10x20ft in from the boundary hedges.
Current location: West Berkshire Museum
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Operations to a depth greater than 0.25m

References cited

Author Publication Year Title Publication Place Publisher Pages Reference
Webster, L. and Backhouse, J. 1991 The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon Art and Culture AD 600-900 London British Museum Press

Similar objects

Find number: SUSS-589730
Object type: SWORD
Gilded silver sword pommel with remains of the iron tang blocking its underside. The centre is steeply humped, with a central half-oval fille…
Workflow: PublishedFind published

Find number: NMS-D42B2D
Broadperiod: ROMAN
Copper-alloy zoomorphic unidentified object in the shape of an animal head, perhaps a dog. The animal's head is at the end of a tapering coni…
Workflow: Awaiting validationFind awaiting validation

Find number: LANCUM-E89D32
Object type: DRINKING HORN
Silver drinking horn terminal dating from the early medieval late Saxon period 10th to 11th century AD. Surface metal analysis conducted b…
Workflow: PublishedFind published

Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: BERK
Created: 17 years ago
Updated: 5 years ago

Other formats: this page is available as qrcode json xml geojson pdf rdf representations.