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Two silver gilt disc brooches

 

Diameter: 4.200 cm
Diameter: 4.200 cm

Bequeathed by William Gibbs

M&ME 1041'70;M&ME 1037'70

Prehistory and Europe

    Two silver gilt disc brooches

    From Anglo-Saxon, mid-late 6th century AD
    Faversham, Kent, England

    Probably worn by an Anglo-Saxon woman from Kent

    The larger of these two brooches bears three keystone-shaped garnet plates, radiating from a central setting. The setting originally had a bossed white shell collar. Now only a circular garnet plate in a tubular bezel survives, surrounded by a ring of beaded wire. Three further circular settings, all cast, between the garnet plates also bore shell rings with garnet centres. Each keystone cell is flanked by a cast ornament whose elements are drawn from Style I vocabulary. These are difficult to read, but if you look carefully at the nested U-shapes you can see an eye, which represents a head. A band of stamped and nielloed zig-zags encircles the central field and the rim of the brooch is alternately plain and ribbed.

    Brooches of this type, set with three trapezoidal (four-sided, with two parallel sides) garnet plates known as 'keystone' garnets, are among the most characteristic finds from Kentish female graves. All are cast in one piece, generally in silver, with numerous variants of decorative schemes within the basic framework. The panels between the stones display Style I ornament, sometimes, as on this example, very degenerate. Most were probably manufactured in the second half of the sixth century. Excavated disc brooches have been found at the neck of buried individuals and it is thought the brooches were used to fasten V-shaped tunics.

    R. Avent, Anglo-Saxon garnet inlaid disc (Oxford, British Archaeological Reports, 1975)

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