Applied brooch

Anglo-Saxon, 6th century AD
From Kempston, Bedfordshire, England

A stamped gilt bronze sheet in the centre

Applied brooches are composite constructions, usually consisting of a dished back-plate to which a metal strip has been soldered as a rim. A thin embossed disc of copper alloy foil, usually gilt, was then soldered in the centre. On this example the sheet is stamped with a central cruciform pattern, with frontal head masks in the 'arms' of the cross and single Style I legs in the fields. This is surrounded by a ring of degenerate Style I elements, consisting only of bossed eyes, feet and disjointed pieces of bodies. This particular design is so clearly represented on this brooch that others with a similar pattern are known as 'Kempston Type' brooches.

Applied brooches could be thought of as cheaper imitations of saucer brooches, which they superficially resemble. However, applied brooches developed earlier, in the late fourth century in northern Germany. They are found in the area between the Rivers Elbe and Weser, the traditional homelands of the Saxons, and are for the most part restricted to the Saxon areas of England. Although the form was introduced into England in the early fifth century, examples like this with Style I ornament date to the sixth century.

Find in the collection online

More information


R.A. Smith, A guide to the Anglo-Saxon and (London, British Museum, 1923)

V.I. Evison, 'Early Anglo-Saxon applied disc brooches', The Antiquaries Journal-1, 58 (1978)

E.T. Leeds, 'The distribution of the Angles and Saxon archaeologically considered', Archaeologia-10, 91 (1945)


Diameter: 6.000 cm

Museum number

M&ME 1891,6-24,254



Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore