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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Gold belt-buckle, hollow with cast ornament. The upper surface is covered entirely with zoomorphic interlace, the design picked out in tiny punched circles and inlaid (except on the loop) in niello. Three large plain hemispherical bosses connect with sliding catches on the back-plate, which opens on a hinge. Situated on either side of the boss at the tip of the buckle, two animals grip a smaller creature in their open jaws; on either side of the two, slightly smaller, upper bosses are two birds' heads with curved beaks. Between these is a circular plate which acts as a stop for the tongue of the buckle. This plate is decorated with a complex animal interlace; the tongue protruding from it is ridged and otherwise plain. The buckle loop has two panels of interlace, not nielloed, on the upper surface and the rest is plain. The buckle loop is hinged independently, and the tongue plate also moves on a separate swivel; basal disc.


  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • early 7thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 13.2 centimetres
    • Width: 5.6 centimetres
    • Weight: 412.7 grammes
  • Curator's comments

    Niello analysed, cf.

    W. A. Oddy, M. Bimson and S. La Niece , The Composition of Niello Decoration on Gold, Silver and Bronze in the Antique and Mediaeval Periods. In: Studies in Conservation, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Feb., 1983), pp. 29-35.

  • Bibliography

    • Marzinzik 2013 108-109, no. 48 bibliographic details
    • Bruce-Mitford 1978 Fig.396 bibliographic details
    • Speake 1980 pl 2d bibliographic details
    • Bruce-Mitford 1975 Pl.E bibliographic details
  • Location


  • Exhibition history


    2006 25 Mar-29 Oct, Woodbridge, Sutton Hoo Visitor Centre, Great Gold Buckle
    1980 10 Mar-30 Sep, Sweden, Stockholm, Statens Historika Museum, The Vikings are Here

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Excavated 1939

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number


COMPASS Image Caption: The king's gold belt buckle;Bwcl aur y brenin

COMPASS Image Caption: The king's gold belt buckle;Bwcl aur y brenin

Image description



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Object reference number: MCS15228

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