Diameter: 13.500 cm
Gift of H. Oppenheimer
Prehistory and Europe
Irish, AD 700-750
From Steeple Bumpstead, Essex, England
Reused as the handle-plate on the parish church
This once sumptuously decorated boss would originally have been attached to a shrine, along with four others, to form a cross-shape. It was apparently found in the church during construction work, stored in a chest and then attached to the chancel door where it was noted in 1842.
The boss was
The accomplished decoration and casting is exceptional and is at the pinnacle of Irish art. In this respect it shares qualities with aristocratic pieces such as the Londesborough brooch, also in The British Museum. The battered state of this boss can only hint at what must have been a magnificent shrine and shows years of use as the backplate to a door handle.
F. Henry, Irish art During the Early Chr (London, Methuen, 1965)
S.M. Youngs (ed.), The work of angels: masterpiec (London, The British Museum Press, 1989)
S.M. Youngs, 'The Steeple Bumpstead Boss' in The age of migrating ideas (Edinburgh, National Museums of Scotland, 1993), pp. 143-50