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Silver-gilt saucer brooch

 

Diameter: 3.000 cm

Gift of G.H. Hadfield

M&ME 1923,5-7,1

Prehistory and Europe

    Silver-gilt saucer brooch

    Early Anglo-Saxon, 5th century AD
    From Merton, Surrey, England

    Cast with a chip-carved floriate cross

    Worn in pairs at the shoulders, and fastened by means of a hinged pin on the reverse, saucer brooches were the most common types of brooch worn by Anglo-Saxon women. The type developed in the early fifth century in Lower Saxony (Germany) and was introduced to England by people who migrated from that region.

    This is a rare and early type of saucer brooch (so called after their dished form). The interior, once gilt, is decorated with a cross with double spirals at the ends of the arms, known as a floriated cross. Floriate crosses are more commonly found on applied brooches, another continental type introduced and made in England in the fifth century. The rarity of the design - floraie crosses are seen on only 3% of known saucer brooches - and the fact that it is made of precious metal, suggests that it was made early in the sequence of production, perhaps around the middle or second half of the century.

    The crisp, sharp-edged decoration seen here first appears in the Late Roman period and is known as 'chip-carving' after its resemblance to wood carving.

    T.M. Dickinson, 'Early Anglo-Saxon saucer brooches: a preliminary overview', Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archa-1, 6 (1993)

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