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penannular brooch

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Silver penannular brooch with pelleted lozenge-shaped panels on its terminals, and lightly incised hatching on the back. The end of the pin is broken off.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 868 (deposited circa)
    • 9thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Type series

    • Fowler G type
  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 3.5 centimetres
    • Length: 5.3 centimetres (pin)
  • Curator's comments

    Webster & Backhouse 1991
    Part of a hoard; found with 1880,0410.1-5; 1880,0410.7-19.

    Date of deposite previously given as c.868.

    The hoard was found in 1774 in a stream-bed in an old tin-mine working, along with a number of other objects now lost, and a considerable quantity of coins which date the deposition of the hoard to c.868 (Blackburn, M.A.S. and Pagan, H.E. 1986, A Revised Checklist of coin hoards from the British Isles c. 500-1100, in M.A.S. Blackburn (ed.) ‘Anglo-Saxon Monetary History’, 294; Brooks, N. and Graham-Campbell, J.A. 1986, Reflections on the Viking Age Silver Hoard from Croydon, Surrey, in M.A.S. Blackburn (ed.) ‘Anglo-Saxon Monetary History’, 109). The composition of the coin assemblage and hence the dating is somewhat problematic; but this revised date has won general acceptance. The accompanying metalwork presents an intriguing mixture of ecclesiastical and secular material, and in addition to its obvious and predominant Anglo-Saxon components includes one brooch of Celtic origin. Much of the hoard is lavishly decorated in the distinctive repertoire of lively zoomorphic, plant, interlace and geometric motifs set in small fields to which it has given its name, the Trewhiddle style, and for which it constitutes the classic assemblage (Brøndsted, J. 1924, ‘Early English Ornament’, London/ Copenhagen, passim, and see above pp. 220-1).
    Apart from the decoration itself, the hoard is notable for a number of exceptional items. The chalice (reg. no. 1880,0410.1-30 is the only Anglo-Saxon silver chalice from Britain: recent restoration has revealed its gilded interior and vestiges of a band of incised interlace below the rim. The recent discovery of a small silver chalice on a crannog at Lough Kinale, Co. Longford, Ireland, provides a very close parallel to the Trewhiddle piece in all but size: particularly interesting in this context is the Lough Kinale chalice's riveted rim-mount, which offers a simple analogy for the lost fitting from the rim of the Trewhiddle chalice (Ryan, M. 1990, The Formal Relationships of Insular Early Medieval Eucharistic Chalices, ‘Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy’ XC(C), no. 10, fig. 1, 292). The Lough Kinale chalice differs significantly from other surviving Irish chalices and might conceivably be of Anglo-Saxon workmanship.
    With the scourge (reg. no. 1880,0410.4), which is a unique survival in an early medieval context, the chalice represents an ecclesiastical element in the hoard. However, the other objects all appear to be secular in nature, though there remains some doubt as to the precise nature of some of them, such as the capping (reg. no. 1880,0410.8 here identified as from a knife handle) and the curved mounts (1880,0410.9-11). The latter have been identified by Smith (1904) and Wilson as horn-mounts, but this explanation fails to account adequately for significant differences from all other Anglo-Saxon horn- or cup-mounts; for instance the lack of provision for a rim binding, and the fact that the mounts could only encompass half a rim. Their construction suggests rather that they were meant to be seen primarily from one side, as if attached to curved strap-work of some kind - on a bridle or spur attachments, for example. The plain riveted strips which extend beyond the decorated area certainly have the look of parts concealed in use, and it is worth remark here that the matching plain base silver strap slides and strap-ends from the hoard are of types thought to have been used with spurs.
    As with the associated coins, in which several separate parcels have been discerned, it looks as if this hoard contains more than one discrete assemblage of precious metalwork.

    Select bibliography: Rashleigh, P. 1789, Account of antiquities discovered in Cornwall, 1774, ‘Archaeologia’ XI, 83-4; Smith, R.A. 1904, Some Anglo-Saxon Silver Ornaments Found at Trewhiddle, Cornwall, in 1774, ‘Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London’ 20, 47-55; Wilson, D.M. and Blunt, C.E. 1961, The Trewhiddle Hoard, ‘Archaeologia’ 98, 75-122; Wilson, D.M. 1964, ‘Anglo-Saxon Ornamental Metalwork 700-1100 in the British Museum, Catalogue of Antiquities of the Later Saxon Period’, I, London, cats 90-103, and passim; Wilson, D.M. 1984, ‘Anglo-Saxon Art’, London, 94-6, figs. 104, 119.


  • Bibliography

    • Webster & Backhouse 1991 246 (h) bibliographic details
    • Dickinson 1982 p.44 no.52 fig.6 bibliographic details
    • Wilson & Blunt 1961 pp. 98-9 pl.XXVIIb bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G41/dc3/sB

  • Exhibition history

    1999-2000 11 Dec-16 Sep, Truro, Royal Cornwall Museum, The History of Christianity in Cornwall

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    found 1774

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number



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