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The Sutton Hoo Purse-Lid

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1939,1010.2.a-l

  • Title (object)

    • The Sutton Hoo Purse-Lid
  • Description

    Gold, garnet and millefiori purse-lid.
    a. Gold frame of purse-lid: sub-rectangular in form, with a straight top and curved ends. Along the straight edge there are three hinges on the outside, and four U-shaped lobes on the inside, each lobe inlaid with cloisonné garnet work in a step-cut design. The lower edge is double-curved with a central projecting tongue, filigree edging and an inner border of oblong cloisonné garnets interspersed with panels of blue/white and blue/black chequered millefiori glass.
    b. Sub-rectangular gold mount, decorated with two pairs of confronted animals, with elongated jaws and legs which form an interlace pattern between them. The bodies of the two inside animals of each pair, placed in the centre of the mount, are interlocked. The beasts and the interlace are all rendered in cloisonné garnet work with stamped gold foil underlays. The eye cell of one beast and back leg cell of another are empty. There are four gold flat-headed rivets on the back, and ten empty rivet holes.
    c & d. Two hexagonal gold mounts with sides of uneven length, longer at the top. The entire surface of both mounts is decorated with a geometric cloisonné garnet pattern including running step-pattern, step-cut, compressed mushroom and irregularly-shaped cells. These are arranged around a central trapezoidal setting with stamped gold foil underlay, but no garnet is present. There are four rivets on back, and one rivet hole in the centre.
    e & f. Two gold mounts in form of bird of prey with a large curved beak, attacking a duck. Rendered in cloisonné garnet work with a blue/black millefiori chequer design on the hip of the large bird, and a blue ring around its eye. Millefiori is missing from parts of the duck on both mounts e and f. Very small garnet cells are used in a chevron design to create a feather impression on the wings and tails of both birds. There are four plain rivets in situ and ten empty rivet holes.
    g & h. Two gold open-work mounts, depicting a frontally-arranged moustached man between two rampant beasts, perhaps wolves. Both the man and beasts are rendered with cloisonné garnet work, comprising large body cells with stamped gold foil underlays, plus millefiori cells at the man's lower torso and the beasts' foreleg joints. Some garnets are missing from both mounts. Rivets remain in the beasts' eyes and man's feet. In the reconstruction, G is on the left and H on the right.
    i & j. Two gold circular studs with cloisonné garnet work, consisting of a pattern of six larger cells alternating with two small cells, repeated five times around the rim. The central cavity contains two plain gold rivet heads. In the reconstruction, I is on the left and J on the right.
    k & l. Two circular gold studs, with cloisonné garnet work, consisting of a pattern of four larger cells alternating with two small cells, repeated five times around the rim. The central cavity contains two plain gold rivet heads. In the reconstruction, K is on the left and L on the right.

    More 

  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • early 7thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 19 centimetres (frame)
    • Width: 8.3 centimetres (frame, excl hinges)
    • Length: 4.3 centimetres (mount b)
    • Width: 2.3 centimetres (mount b)
    • Weight: 18.45 grammes (mount b)
    • Length: 3.3 centimetres (mounts c & d)
    • Width: 2.8 centimetres (mounts c & d)
    • Weight: 13.53 grammes (mount c)
    • Weight: 16.87 grammes (mount d)
    • Length: 3.3 centimetres (mounts e & f)
    • Width: 2.8 centimetres (mounts e & f)
    • Weight: 11.31 grammes (mount e)
    • Weight: 12.87 grammes (mount f)
    • Length: 3.3 centimetres (mounts g & h)
    • Width: 3 centimetres (mounts g & h)
    • Weight: 15.56 grammes (mount g)
    • Weight: 15.23 grammes (mount h)
    • Diameter: 1.2 centimetres (studs i & j)
    • Diameter: 0.9 centimetres (max; studs k & l)
    • Weight: 2.9 grammes (stud i)
    • Weight: 2.7 grammes (stud j)
    • Weight: 1.79 grammes (stud k)
    • Weight: 1.79 grammes (stud l)
  • Bibliography

    • Speake 1980 3 bibliographic details
    • Bruce-Mitford 1978 Figs.358-380 bibliographic details
  • Location

    G41/dc1

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    2004 1 Apr-30 Oct, Woodbridge, Suffolk, Sutton Hoo Visitor Centre, Between Myth and Reality
    2007 17 Mar-28 Oct, Woodbridge, Suffolk, Sutton Hoo Visitor Centre, Wondrously Wrought
    1980 10 Mar-30 Sep, Sweden, Stockholm, Statens Historika Museum, The Vikings are Here

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1939

  • Acquisition notes

    Excavated 1939

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1939,1010.2.a-l

  • Additional IDs

    • 1939,10-10,20 & 21 (former number)
Gold and milliefiori purse lid.
a. Gold frame of purse-lid: sub-rectangular with straight top and curved ends; three hinges on straight edge, 4 U-shaped garnet inlaid lobes inside straight edge.  Lower edge is double-curved with a central projecting tongue. Filigree edging with inner border of  oblong cloisonné garnets and blue/white and blue/black chequered millefiori.
b.Gold mount, sub-rectangular. Decorated with two pairs of confronted interlaced animals, linked together, all in cloisonne garnet work. The eye cell of one beast and back leg cell of another are empty. Four gold flat-headed rivets on back, and ten empty rivet holes.
c & d. Two gold mounts, hexagonal. Sides of uneven length, longer at top. Filled with geometric cloisonne garnet pattern. At the centre of each is trapezoidal setting with gold foil backing, but no garnet present. Four rivets on back, and rivet hole in centre.
e & f. Two gold mounts in form of bird of prey attacking a duck. In cloisonne garnet work, with blue/black milliefiori chequer on hip of large bird, and blue ring around eye. Milliefiori missing from parts of duck on both. Very small garnet cells used to give feather impression on both birds. Four plain rivets in situ and ten empty rivet holes.
g & h. Two gold openwork mounts, depicting man between two rampant lions. Worked in cloisonne garnet and milliefiori, with large body cells. Some garnets missing from both mounts. Rivets in lions's eyes and man's feet. G on left and H on right in reconstruction.
i & j. Two gold circular studs. Pattern of six larger cells filled with garnets alternating with two small cells, repeated five times around rims. Central cavity contains heads of two plain gold rivets. I on left and J on right in reconstruction.
k & l. Two circular gold studs. Pattern of four larger cells filled with garnets alternating with two small cells, repeated five times around rim. Central cavity contains heads of two plain gold rivets. K on left and L on right in reconstruction.

Gold and milliefiori purse lid. a. Gold frame of purse-lid: sub-rectangular with straight top and curved ends; three hinges on straight edge, 4 U-shaped garnet inlaid lobes inside straight edge. Lower edge is double-curved with a central projecting tongue. Filigree edging with inner border of oblong cloisonné garnets and blue/white and blue/black chequered millefiori. b.Gold mount, sub-rectangular. Decorated with two pairs of confronted interlaced animals, linked together, all in cloisonne garnet work. The eye cell of one beast and back leg cell of another are empty. Four gold flat-headed rivets on back, and ten empty rivet holes. c & d. Two gold mounts, hexagonal. Sides of uneven length, longer at top. Filled with geometric cloisonne garnet pattern. At the centre of each is trapezoidal setting with gold foil backing, but no garnet present. Four rivets on back, and rivet hole in centre. e & f. Two gold mounts in form of bird of prey attacking a duck. In cloisonne garnet work, with blue/black milliefiori chequer on hip of large bird, and blue ring around eye. Milliefiori missing from parts of duck on both. Very small garnet cells used to give feather impression on both birds. Four plain rivets in situ and ten empty rivet holes. g & h. Two gold openwork mounts, depicting man between two rampant lions. Worked in cloisonne garnet and milliefiori, with large body cells. Some garnets missing from both mounts. Rivets in lions's eyes and man's feet. G on left and H on right in reconstruction. i & j. Two gold circular studs. Pattern of six larger cells filled with garnets alternating with two small cells, repeated five times around rims. Central cavity contains heads of two plain gold rivets. I on left and J on right in reconstruction. k & l. Two circular gold studs. Pattern of four larger cells filled with garnets alternating with two small cells, repeated five times around rim. Central cavity contains heads of two plain gold rivets. K on left and L on right in reconstruction.

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Object reference number: MCS15210

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