Diameter: 3.200 cm
Britain, Europe and Prehistory
Room 41: Europe AD 300-1100
Gold disc brooch
Merovingian, late 6th century AD
Probably from Germany
Inlaid with garnets and a blue glass stud
The brooch is made in the cloisonné technique with garnets and glass, one adopted from Eastern Mediterranean jewellers by the Franks, Goths, Lombards and other ‘barbarians’, as well as probably in workshops of the western Mediterranean region. Secondary workshops could have been established in the Rhineland, the Moselle Valley and North Sea area. Analysis of the constituents of the backing pastes suggests that workshop techniques developed regionally. The garnets themselves were possibly obtained by sea trade from India.
In western Europe the wearing of single disc brooches replaced the use of paired brooches in the late sixth and seventh centuries, as costume fashions changed under Byzantine influence through diplomatic, religious and trade contacts. Disc brooches also noticeably increased in size over this period.
R.A. Smith, A guide to the Anglo-Saxon and (London, British Museum, 1923)