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Strickland Brooch

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Strickland Brooch
  • Description

    Slightly convex bossed disc brooch of sheet silver with inlaid gold and niello ornament. The zoomorphic decoration is deeply carved and pierced to give an open-work effect. Within the beaded rim, a zone of alternate disc and lozenge patterns contains the main decorative field, which consists of a central hollow-sided cruciform design with a boss at its centre and animal-head terminals, with a quatrefoil, the cusps of which terminate in identical animal heads: all the heads are (or were) set with blue glass eyes and are interconnected by a beaded circle. This in turn creates subsidiary fields each containing a puppy-like Trewhiddle-style beast. Four more bosses lie towards the perimeter, behind the animal-heads on the quatrefoils. Numerous gold panels are hammered into the decoration and considerable use is made of speckling and beaded framing. A suspension or keeper loop is attached to one edge of the brooch, at right angles to the direction of the pin catch, only stubs of which remain. The back is otherwise plain.


  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 9thC(mid)
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 11.2 centimetres (max)
  • Curator's comments

    Webster & Backhouse 1991
    The brooch has no known history, but belonged to the Strickland family of Yorkshire. It is a particularly opulent version of the large silver disc brooch, notable for its unusual use of gold inlays, seen rarely elsewhere. The deep carving and glittering polychrome surfaces give it a dynamic quality unusual in the normally more restrained and two-dimensional ninth-century jewellery. The decoration consists of typical elements of the Trewhiddle style, such as beaded frames, collared animals, speckled bodies, and the animal heads with curling ears, which may be paralleled on many strap-ends from northern England, as well as on the Trewhiddle horn-mounts themselves (reg. no. 1880,0410.5, and see reg. no. W.52, a strap-end pair from Bamburgh Castle, Bamburgh, Northumberland and two pairs of strap-ends from National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside, Liverpool Museum, inv. nos. 12.6.79 16-19).

    Select bibliography: Wilson, D.M. 1984, ‘Anglo-Saxon Art’, London, no, fig. 115.Wilson 1964
    The object is known as the Strickland brooch. The brooch, which had been purchased by an American collector after a sale at Sotheby's (see sale catalogue cited above), was refused an export licence and was bought by the Museum (which was the underbidder). It formed part of a collection sold by Mrs. Strickland, then of Boynton Hall, Bridlington, Yorks, and, although unprovenanced, most probably formed part of the collection of the Yorkshire antiquary, Sir William Strickland (1753-1834), who collected widely in a number of fields. It has sometimes been assumed that it is of Yorkshire provenance, Wilson (1955a) and Bruce-Mitford (1956a), but there is no evidence for this. The brooch is sufficiently authenticated by its history, but physical tests, carried out in the British Museum Research Laboratory, have proved beyond doubt that the brooch is not a forgery. The report of the Research Laboratory reads:
    'I have examined the silver brooch with care and it seems to me to be original. The metal (gold and silver), the niello, the blue glass eye inlays, and the method of construction (punch and chisel work) all seem to me to be in keeping. I consider the marks of wear to be old. The hanging ring is obviously later, and the brooch has been cleaned with rouge, not recently. I feel that there are grounds for assigning it considerable antiquity, apart from the ornament, and this being so it is probably authentic.'
    Subsequently the niello was examined and proved to be of the early type used before the eleventh century.(1)

    Ninth century.

    See pp. 3, 16, 22 27, 31-34, 40, 52 and pl. XLIII.

    Bibliography: 'Sotheby's Sale Catalogue, 9th May', 1949; lot 128, pls. iii-iv; Bruce-Mitford, R. L. S. (1952a): 'A Late Saxon disk-brooch and sword-pommel', British Museum Quarterly, xv, 75 and pl. xxx; Moss, A. A. (1953a): 'Niello', Studies in Conservation, i, 61; Moss, A. A. (1953b): 'Niello', The Antiquaries Journal, xxxiii, 76; Wilson, D. M. (1955a): 'An Early Viking Age Grave from Källby, Lund', Meddelanden från Lunds Universitets Historiska Museum, 116 and fig. 6; Bruce-Mitford, R. L. S. (1956a): 'Late Saxon Disk-Brooches', Dark-Age Britain, (ed. D. B. Harden), London, 190ff., fig. 37 and pl. Xxci; Wilson, D. M. (1960a): The Anglo-Saxons, London, 221 and pl. 64; Dunning, G. C. and Evison, V. I. (1961): 'The Palace of Westminster Sword', Archaeologia, xcviii, 141, 143, 144, 148 and 151; Wilson, D. M. and Blunt, C. E. (1961): 'The Trewhiddle Hoard', Archaeologia, 98, 94 and 105.

    (1) Moss (1953a), 61.


  • Bibliography

    • Wilson 1964 152 bibliographic details
    • Webster & Backhouse 1991 189 bibliographic details
    • Marzinzik 2013 65 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G41/dc4

  • Exhibition history

    2001 6 Apr-26 Sep, York, Yorkshire Museum, The Golden Age of York: Alcuin and Charlemagne
    1999 16 Dec-2000 27 Feb, Spain, Barcelona, Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya, Carolingian Catalonia

  • Condition

    No recorded provenance.

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number


Silver disc brooch: the Strickland brooch; convex with 5 bosses; central cross in quatrefoil of openwork animals; gold plate inlays.

Silver disc brooch: the Strickland brooch; convex with 5 bosses; central cross in quatrefoil of openwork animals; gold plate inlays.

Image description



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Object reference number: MCS5109

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