Bréban grave group

Merovingian, early to mid-6th century AD
From a grave in a cemetery at Bréban, Marne, France

Grave goods from a high-status female grave

The woman who was buried at Bréban, went to the grave in all her finery in the pagan fashion. Her jewellery consists of: a pair of gold earrings inlaid with garnets and glass; a pair of gilded copper-alloy radiate-headed brooches, with garnet inlays and friezes of bird heads (found at the woman's waist); a pair of gilded silver quatrefoil brooches; a single gilded silver and garnet disc brooch found on her chest; amber beads, which were worn at the neck; and a bracelet of glass beads, from her left wrist; and a hairpin, jet ring, buckle and silver cosmetic implement. At the woman's feet were the iron hoops and handle from a wooden bucket and an iron spade-end.

The woman would have worn the brooches as dress-fasteners, possibly in a similar way to those from a grave at Artres, but with the addition of the disc brooch. Buckets are found in both male and female graves and could have held wine or beer at feasts. The spade-end was probably lost by one of the grave-diggers. The lady's high status is underlined by the depth of the rock-cut grave: at 2.3 metres it is deeper than the others in the cemetery, with the exception of an adjacent grave belonging to a well-armed male. These two graves may, therefore, have belonged to the leading members of a rural community, possibly husband and wife.

Although the burial is in the pagan style, the crosses in the designs of the earrings and the finger ring suggest that the woman could have been Christian, especially as there are other signs of Christianity in the cemetery. The Franks had adopted the Catholic religion of the native Gallo-Romans after the baptism of their king, Clovis, at Reims, around AD 500.

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More information

Bibliography

L. Morel, 'Description de deux sépultures importantes du cimetière de Bréban (Marne)', Société des Sciences et Arts d, 16 (1889-90), pp. 677-88

Dimensions

Length: 8.400 cm (large brooch)
Length: 8.400 cm (large brooch)
Diameter: 4.000 cm (earring)
Diameter: 4.000 cm (earring)
Diameter: 4.000 cm (earring)
Length: 8.400 cm (large brooch)
Length: 8.400 cm (large brooch)
Width: 3.000 cm (buckle)
Length: 8.400 cm (large brooch)
Length: 8.400 cm (large brooch)
Length: 8.400 cm (large brooch)
Diameter: 4.000 cm (earring)

Museum number

M&ME ML.3307-18, 3653, 3841, 3908

MCS3958;MCS3977;MCS3963;MCS3996;MCS3948;MCS3984;MCS4429;MCS4414;MCS4424;MCS4421;MCS4432;MCS4417;MCS13186;MCS5779;MCS5227

Morel Collection

Location

Find in the collection online



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