History of the British Museum and its collections, £6.00
Length: 12.100 cm (centre
Diameter: 4.800 cm (centre pin head)
Gift of the Royal Archaeological Institute, London
Triple pin set
Anglo-Saxon, late 8th century
River Witham at Fiskerton, Lincolnshire, England
The only surviving triple set of linked dress pins
This unusual and richly decorated set of three linked pins was discovered in the River Witham in 1826. Pin sets and single pins, often elaborately decorated, came into fashion as clothing styles changed in the middle Saxon period and brooches seem to have become less common. It is not easy to see how these three pins were worn, pairs of linked pins would be simply fixed one each side of an opening.
The designs on the three pin heads show that one is a replacement: two have matching layouts with circular holes and plain bars dividing the panels of ornament, while the third has an openwork cross and a rope pattern round the border. All three are finely worked with delicate panels of interlace framing a variety of lively little beasts and birds in profile. The design of every panel is different.
These discs were
D.M. Wilson, Anglo-Saxon art (London, Thames and Hudson, 1984)
L. Webster and J. Backhouse, The making of England: Anglo-S, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)