Length: 7.300 cm
Width: 2.500 cm
Gift of Edith M. Pretty
On loan to
Buckle from the sword belt from the ship-burial at Sutton Hoo
Anglo-Saxon, 7th century AD
From Mound 1, Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, England
A gold and garnet cloisonné buckle
This buckle, found crushed beneath the sword, fastened the belt from which the sword hung. It is the only gold object in the Sutton Hoo burial that is damaged.
The buckle has a small oval loop, cut away shoulders and long rectangular front and black plates. The end of the belt ran between these two plates and was held securely in place by three gold rivets at the end of the buckle and two, hidden, rivets in the shoulders. Unlike many modern buckles, the tongue is fixed and the loop moves downwards to insert the belt end. The front of the buckle is decorated with panels of cloisonné garnets that are deliberately set at different levels, as though to emphasize the raised central panel. All the garnets are set over pointillé gold foils which reflect light back through the stones to make them sparkle.
The buckle was made integrated with four rectangular mounts that stiffened the belt, and a strap-distributor from which a strap, narrower than the belt, fell to the sword scabbard and scabbard slide.
R.L.S. Bruce-Mitford, The Sutton Hoo ship burial-2, vol. 2: arms, armour and regalia (London, The British Museum Press, 1978)
W. Menghin, Das Schwert im Frühen Mittelal (Stuttgart, K. Theiss, 1983)