Disc-on-bow brooch

Anglo-Saxon, AD 550-600
From Howletts, Kent, England

Links with Scandinavia?

The combined elements on this disc-on-bow brooch produce a rich and complex effect. The disc riveted to the bow is a variant of a disc brooch with three keystone garnet plates, a central shell ring with a garnet inlay, and panels of degenerate Style I ornament. An identical shell ring decorates the rounded end of the brooch. The two circular garnets at the sides of the brooch have been drilled and inlaid with a ring of gold. Above each of these are twinned animal or bird heads with U-shaped eye surrounds. A small human mask is tucked between them. The head-plate displays a central panel of animal ornament, with garnets on the corner and in the centre. The entire composition is united by a band of stamped and nielloed triangles.

This unusual brooch is an Anglo-Saxon variant of a Scandinavian type. A very similar brooch, presumably from the same workshop, was found at Dover. The date of this brooch suggests that some high status people in Kent maintained links with Scandinavia well into the later sixth century, at a time when northern connections had been largely superseded by Frankish ones.

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More information


R. Avent, Anglo-Saxon garnet inlaid disc (Oxford, British Archaeological Reports, 1975)


Length: 9.400 cm

Museum number

M&ME 1918,7-11,1


Gift of Charles Wickenden


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