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Silver and gold buckle decorated with a fish

Anglo-Saxon, mid-7th century AD From Crundale Down, Kent, England

  • Underside of buckle

    Underside of buckle

 

Length: 15.200 cm
Width: 6.400 cm

M&ME 1893,6-1,204

    Silver and gold buckle decorated with a fish

    Anglo-Saxon, mid-7th century AD
    From Crundale Down, Kent, England

    A Christian symbol

    The fish on this buckle is seen from above, with its head facing towards the loop. Its body is divided with fine wire and it originally had garnet-inlaid eyes. The fish was an early Christian symbol and its use here must have been a deliberate reference to Christianity. In the middle of the seventh century, when this buckle was made, conversion to Christianity was increasingly popular. The buckle plate is hollow, and like the great gold buckle from Sutton Hoo, could have been used as a reliquary.

    In all other respects, however, the buckle reflects pagan Anglo-Saxon traditions. The triangular shape of the buckle is a type known from the sixth century onwards and the garnet cloisonné inlay derives from continental Germanic tradition. Below the shield-shaped element with garnet inlay is an interlaced serpent in filigree wire; its head can just be seen on the right-hand side. The wires interlaced into knots along the sides of the buckle also have snake's heads at the tops. On the backplate is a lightly incised animal looking backwards and biting its own body.

    This buckle was found in 1861, in a man's grave together with a garnet inlaid copper-alloy buckle and an iron sword with a pommel decorated with a Style II animal. Another buckle with a similar fish from Eccles in Kent was also found in a male grave.

    L. Webster and J. Backhouse, The making of England: Anglo-S, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)

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