Length: 34.000 mm
Width: 34.000 mm
Britain, Europe and Prehistory
Anglo-Saxon, early 9th century
From Brandon, Suffolk, England
St John the Evangelist with the head of an eagle
This gold plaque was found by a fisherman by the River Ouse at Brandon in 1978. It comes from what was a high-status Saxon settlement with strong religious connections.
The square of
gold is finely engraved and inlaid with black
Holes at the four corners suggest that the plaque may have been set into a standing cross or onto a book cover. The plain back has a small letter 'a' as a guide for assembling the original object. This plaque will have once been part of a set of four, with three more depicting the symbols of the other three Gospel writers, the Evangelists St Mark (a lion), St Matthew (a man) and St Luke (a bull).
The mix of man and symbol is clever and unusual, while the lettering is of high quality. It is a unique survival in metal of the kind of decoration found in the finest manuscripts of the period.
E. Okasha, 'A supplement to the handlist of Anglo-Saxon non-runic inscriptions', Anglo-Saxon England, 11 (1983)
S. West, A corpus of Anglo-Saxon metalw (East Anglian Archaeology, Report no. 84, 1998)
L. Webster and J. Backhouse, The making of England: Anglo-S, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)