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«SOME NEW AND NEGLECTED FINDS OF 9th-CENTURY ANGLO-SAXON ORNAMENTAL METALWORK (Figs. 2, 3, 4; PI. IV, B) The purpose of this note is to record six ...»

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These two neglected 9th-century hooked tags are now joined by two new finds, that from Costessey, Norfolk recently published by Miss Barbara Green,21 and that newly excavated in Canterbury (Fig. 2, 2). Both are circular with pairs of perforated lugs like that from Birka, and both are divided into three fields in the manner of that from E. Kent. The similarities between the Costessey and Canterbury tags extend to the choice and lay-out of the ornament filling these fields, with the two large fields each containing a single animal, head uppermost and turned outwards, degenerating into vegetable interlace, whereas the sub-triangular field contains a single animal of somewhat more conventional proportions with its head in the top right-hand corner. The most notable differences between the two pieces consist of the use of speckling and a beaded border on the Costessey tag, whilst the Canterbury one has plain borders and dividing lines, and plain animals (except for their double bands which can be paralleled on the Beeston Tor, Strickland and Fuller disc brooches.V as well as on Ethelwulf's ring 23 and that from the R. Reno, Bologna, ltaly).24 The Costessey tag is unusual in being further embellished by the addition of a central boss, whereas the Canterbury tag has a stylized animal's head forming the base of the hook (ofa type discussed below, as it features on numerous qt h-cen tury strap-ends). As noted by Miss Green, the Costessey tag presents 'a superb example' of classic Trewhiddle-style ornament and the Canterbury example is equally fine, although its incised ornament is better paralleled on the Bologna gold ring (or in the 9th-century Canterbury manuscript: British Library, Royal I.E.vi)25 than in the Trewhiddle hoard itself, except for the club-like ears 'on strings'.

These four hooked tags, and the pair from Winchester, are elaborate examples ofa type oflate Anglo-Saxon artefact that is becoming increasingly familiar and that will become even better known in the near future with the publication of two major groups - a further twenty or so examples from the Winchester excavations.F" and those found in York.P? In the meantime, single-finds are continuously coming to light (e.g. that of copper alloy found in the pelvic area of a skeleton in the Anglo-Saxon cemetery by St Albans Abbey;28 and another of silver with exceptionally fine Trewhiddle-style ornament recently submitted to the Winchester City Museumi.P?

Many of these hooked tags are so slight that they can only have been used on light fabrics, perhaps in the manner of the modern 'hook and eye'30 although the more substantial examples could have taken some strain and it is reasonable to accept the suggestion that the Winchester pair, found beneath the knees ofa skeleton, could have fastened garters. It is the uncertainty as to their exact use in most cases that argues for their being termed 'hooked tags' in future publications, rather than being labelled by any of the alternatives listed above.

The strap-ends Compared to the essentially functional nature of the hooked tags, Anglo-Saxon strapends were largely ornamental although the smaller examples would have protected the ends of woven belts or ribbons from fraying whilst providing the weight to make them hang attractively. More substantial strap-ends were used on leather belts and straps (e.g. the roth-century Anglo-Scandinavian Jellinge-style strap-end from Winchesterj-" and would have helped to prevent them from curling. Strap-ends represent the commonest form of surviving late Anglo-Saxon ornamental metalwork, being particularly abundant from the 9th century, ranging from superb examples in silver to crude and incoherent imitations in copper alloy.V


All four of the strap-ends published here belong to the stereotyped gth-century group characterized by their elongated form, with a narrow opening at the split end pierced for a pair of rivets, with incised ornament on the obverse and a plain reverse, and with a terminal in the form of a stylized animal's head seen from above. In the case of the St Mildred's Bay and Long Wittenham examples (Figs. 3, 1 and 3, 4) the animal-head terminals may be clearly recognized, the top of the head being formed by a pair of oval ears with lunate incisions; the eyes are indicated by dots in oval fields, set well down on either side of the ornamented snout. Only the characteristic ears are clearly depicted on the Stowting/ Faversham strap-end (Fig. 3, 2). Numerous strap-ends in the British and Ashmolean Museums' collections have such ears on their animal-head terminals.F' as also has the Canterbury hooked tag (Fig. 2, 2). The animal's head on the Lode strap-end (Fig. 3, 3) has comma-shaped ears which are another characteristic of gth-century animal ornament; they are also found on many strap-ends.v' and other metalwork such as two of the Trewhiddle horn mounts.V Another feature shared by these four strap-ends, one which marks them out as particularly elaborate examples of the type, is the division of the main body into four or more fields (cf. the strap-end from the Cuerdale, Lancs., hoard deposited c.903,36 and that from Dymchurch, Kent),3? in addition to the fan-shaped field that emerges from between the rivet-holes (damaged on that from Stowting/Faversham) which is a feature, usually containing leaves, occurring on well over half the recorded strap-ends of this type. 38 The St Mildred's Bay strap-end (Fig. 3, I) has the beaded borders so common on Trewhiddle-style metalwork of which it is a superb example. The lively animal in the upper left-hand field has a typically square snout and the characteristic bump over the eye, with its ear on a string (see the Canterbury tag above). I t is balanced by, and constrasted with, a field of plain interlace (cf. those on the larger Beeston Tor disc brooch, and panel 19 on the Abingdon sword), as also with the animals in the lower fields which deteriorate into interlace, although even here variety is introduced by their being of slightly different size and inverted in relation to each other. Animals that deteriorate into interlace have been noted above as common in the Trewhiddle style and so it is not surprising that they occur also on both the other Kentish strap-ends mentioned here - that from Dymchurch, and the Stowting/Faversham example (Fig. 3, 2). On the Stowting/Faversham strap-end these animals occupy the upper fields and have raised forelegs, that of the left-hand animal being unusual in that it is clearly inserted into an indentation in the body, a feature discussed elsewhere in relation to the animals on an 8th-century ornament from Canterbury. 39 The prevalence ofanimal ornament on these Kentish strap-ends is in marked contrast to the foliate designs encountered on the Lode and Long Wittenham examples (Figs. 3, 3 and 3,4). It was noted above, however, that these form an important aspect of the range of Trewhiddle-style motifs, employed to varying degrees by different craftsmen. The semifoliate interlace and foliate scrolls on the Long Wittenham strap-end are closely related to those on the hooked tag from E. Kent discussed above; the interlace on the Lode example is unusual both in its overall openness and in the eccentric details of its intertwining.

It only remains to comment on the use of ornamented bosses on the Long Wittenham strap-end which is unique on this type of Anglo-Saxon object, although their use on other objects from disc brooches to horn-mounts was noted long ago by Dr David Wilson as being a particular characteristic of 9th-century English metalwork.r'" In this context it is apposite to note the single boss (also unique in its place) attached to the centre of the Costessey hooked tag. The presence of such bosses on an Anglo-Saxon strap-end helps to support my suggestion that a small group of perforated strap-ends from gth- to roth-century contexts in western Britain and Ireland (in other respects clearly derived from the Anglo-Saxon series) may once have been ornamented with bosses and so were not necessarily book-clasps, as has been sometimes assumed.f'


Conclusions As a final observation, it may be noted that these half dozen examples of 9th-century Anglo-Saxon ornamental metalwork are but a few of the many such pieces that have accumulated from all over England (as well as from Scotland and Wales) since Wilson defined and discussed the Trewhiddle style in 1961 and 1964.42 The newly discovered hoard of six silver disc brooches from Pentney, Norfolk, acquired in 1981 by the British Museum, throws much light on the emergence of this style and the time is now ripe for someone to undertake a reappraisal of the Trewhiddle style as a whole, for the wealth ofnew material will surely make it possible to recognize regional and chronological variations within the style first defined twenty years ago.


NOTES 1 I am grateful to Mr K. Reedie for the invitation to publish this hooked tag and the two strap-ends in the Royal Museum, Canterbury, and for furnishing me with information on their provenances and history; the drawings are by Mrs Eva Wilson.

2 Mr T. Tatton-Brown, Director of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, kindly invited me to publish this piece in advance of the Marlowe site-report and I am grateful to him and his staff for their assistance.

3 This Catalogue is preserved in the Dept. of Medieval and Later Antiquities of the British Museum.

4 I am grateful to Mr D. Brown and Mr A. MacGregor for their invitation to publish this strap-end and for providing the drawing.

5 Miss M. Cra'ster kindly drew my attention to this strap-end and arranged for it to be drawn by Mrs Eva Wilson.

6 The drawing (Fig. 2, 2) by Mrs Eva Wilson flattens the deformed edge of the tag and does not attempt to render the present state of the niello which obscures details of the designs (cf. PI. IV, B).

7 T. M. Dickinson, 'Bronze lace-tags from Site F', 116-17 in A. C. C. Brodribb, A. R. Hands and D. R. Walker, Excavations at Shakenoak, IV (Oxford, 1973).

8 D. Brown, 'Archaeological evidence for the Anglo-Saxon period', 19--45 (see pp. 27-28) in A. McWhirr (ed.), Archaeology and History ofCirencester (Brit. Archaeol. Repts., Brit. ser., 30, Oxford, 1976).

9 D. A. Hinton and M. Welch, 'The finds: iron and bronze', 195-219 (see pp. 214-16) in B. Cunliffe, Excavationsat Portchester Castle, II (Soc. Antiq. London Research Repts., no. 33, London, 1976).

10 M. Biddle and B. Kjelbye-Biddle, Winchester Saxon and Norman Art: a revised exhibition (Winchester, 1973), nos.


11 D. M. Wilson, 'Later and post-medieval objects: copper alloy', 274-87 (see pp. 278-79) in P. Rahtz, The Saxonand MedievalPalaces at Cheddar (Brit. Archaeol. Repts., Brit. ser., 65, Oxford, 1979).

12 D. M. Wilson, 'Late Saxon metalwork from the Old Minster, 1964', Antiq.j., XLV (1965),262-64.

13 Grave 348: H. Arbman, Birka I: Die Graber (Stockholm/Uppsala, 1940-43),99, fig. 52, I, pI. 99,4.

14 J.Graham-Campbell, Viking Artefacts (London, 1980), no. 31 I.

15 D. A. Hinton, Catalogue oftheAnglo-Saxon Ornamental Metalwork, 70(-[ [00, in theDepartmentofAntiquities, Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, 1974), no. I.

16 D. M. Wilson and C. E. Blunt, 'The Trewhiddle hoard', Archaeologia, XCVIII (1961), 75-122 (and op. cit. in note 19, nos. 90-103).

17]. Graham-Campbell, 'The qth-centur-y Anglo-Saxon horn-mount from Burghead, Morayshire, Scotland', MedievalArchaeol., XVII (1973),43-5 I.

18 Op. cit. in note 15, no. 23.

19 D. M. Wilson, Anglo-Saxon Ornamental Metalwork, 70(-[ lOO, in theBritish Museum (London, 1964), no. 153.

20 Ibid., no. 3.

21 B. Green, 'Two 9th-century silver objects from Costessey', Norfolk Archaeol., XXXVII (1980), 351-53.

22 Op. cit. in note 19, nos. 2, 152 and 153; see also R. L. S. Bruce-Mitford, 'Late Saxon disc-brooches', 171-201 in D. B. Harden (ed.), Dark Age Britain (London, 1956).

23 Op. cit. in note 19, no. 31.

24 R. L. S. Bruce-Mitford, op. cit. in note 22, pI. xxii, b-d.

25 E.g. op. cit. in note 19, pI. V; I am grateful to Miss M. Budny for discussing these parallels with me.

26 D. A. Hinton in M. Biddle (ed.), Winchester Studies, vol. 7, part ii, forthcoming.

27 E.g. D. Tweddle in E. Roesdahl,]. Graham-Campell, P. Connor and K. Pearson (eds.), The Vikings in England (London, 1981), nos. YDIg--21.

28 M. Biddle and B. Kjalbye-Biddle, 'England's premier abbey: the medieval chapter house ofSt Albans Abbey, and its excavation in 1978', Hertfordshire's Past, XI (1981), 3-27 (see p. 23 and fig. 18).

29 I am grateful to Dr Sue Margeson for bringing this find to my attention and to Miss Elizabeth Lewis for permission to refer to it.

30 For an 'eye' used in this manner, see op. cit. in note 27, no. YD22. The Tetney tags appear to have been used to fasten a purse (op. cit. in note 19, nos. 86 and 87).


Lac, cit. in note 12; op, cit. in note 14, no, 188, Op. cit. in note 16, Appendix C; op, cit. in note 19,62-63, 33 Op. cit. in notes 15 and 19, passim;see also that from Walton, Bucks" perhaps of 8th-century date, published by Prof. Vera Evison in M, Farley, 'Saxon and Medieval Walton, Aylesbury: excavations 1973-74', Records of Buckinghamshire, xx (1976),153-291.

34 Ibid, 3S Op. cit. in note 19, nos, 94 and 95, 36 Ibid" no, 13, 37 Ibid" fig, I.

38 Ibid" 28, 39 M, Budny and j, Graham-Campbell, 'An 8th-century Anglo-Saxon ornament from Canterbury and related works', Archaeologia Cantiana, XCVII (1981), 7-2,1' 40 Op, cit. in note 16, 105, 41 j, Graham-Campbell, 'A fragmentary bronze strap-end of the Viking period from the Udal, North Uist, Inverness-shire', Medieval A rchaeol., XVII (1973),128--31.

42 Wilson in Wilson and Blunt, lac, cit. in note 16, and op, cit. in note 19, 21-35,


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