Length: 4.300 cm
Width: 3.500 cm
Bequeathed by Sir A.W. Franks
Room 41: Europe AD 300-1100
Anglo-Saxon, 6th century
From Kenninghall, Norfolk, England
Cast with Style I decoration
Wrist clasps were used to secure the cuffs of
long-sleeved garments worn by women. They functioned rather like
modern hook and eye fasteners. This is the hook plate of what would
originally have been two sections of a clasp. It is decorated with
a central mask between panels of
Wrist clasps derive from Scandinavia (the closest parallels are in Norway) and were not introduced into England until the last quarter of the fifth century AD. They are typical of Anglian culture, being found primarily within the boundaries of Anglian settlements in the east of England. This example is one of a number of similar clasps found in East Anglia, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.
Some wrist clasps have been found with corrosion which when analysed suggests that they were stitched onto bands of tablet-woven braid or leather.
Many examples are undecorated and purely functional, but others like this bear Style I ornament. The elaborate decoration, settings for inlays and the fact that it is made from silver suggests that this clasp was made for a woman of high status.
J. Hines, Clasps hektespenner agraffen: (Stockholm : Kungl. Vitterhets historie och antikvitets akademien, 1993)