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Silver wrist-clasp

 

Length: 4.300 cm
Width: 3.500 cm

Bequeathed by Sir A.W. Franks

M&ME 1883,7-2,9

    Silver wrist-clasp

    Anglo-Saxon, 6th century AD
    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 Style I decoration. The empty circular settings in the outer corners and inner edge may have had red enamel.

    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)

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