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The Pitney Brooch

 

Diameter: 39.000 mm

M&ME 1979,11-1,1

Prehistory and Europe

    The Pitney Brooch

    Anglo-Scandinavian, 2nd half of the 11th century AD
    Found in Pitney, Somerset, England

    An entwined animal and snake in combat

    This elegant openwork brooch was found in a churchyard. The skill needed to make it indicates that it was probably worn by a man or woman of some importance, and the brooch would have been considered a symbol of prestige.

    The main ornament is a snake with round eyes biting the underside of a four-legged animal, which in turn bites itself. A row of beads runs along the underside of the animal which is stretched into a looped ribbon. Its hips are marked with spirals and a spindly front and back leg are shown.

    The brooch is a rare and fine example of the combination of Scandinavian and English art styles. The design, with its plant-like tendrils and ribbon animals, is an English version of the final phase of Viking art, the Urnes Style. However, the delicate beading which picks out the main animal, and the scalloped border of the brooch are both Anglo-Saxon features.

    The brooch was cast in bronze with a slightly convex form, then gilded on both side. The reverse is plain, and still retains some fixings for the missing pin.

    E. Roesdahl and D.M. Wilson (eds), From Viking to crusader: the S (Sweden, Bohusläningens Boktryckeri, 1992)

    D.M. Wilson, Anglo-Saxon art (London, Thames and Hudson, 1984)

    J. Backhouse, D.H. Turner and L. Webster (eds.), The golden age of Anglo-Saxon, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)

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