Friday, April 19, 2019 1:57:00 PM
It has long been the habit of the human race to decorate and embelish certain prized possessions with what in modern parlance we might call "bling". Cars with mean looking alloys and go faster stripes are a contemporary example, but the principle mode of transport before the car, namely the horse, has been given the same treatment across the centuries. Horse brasses and plumes attached to heavy horse harness are still just within living memory for some. Many centuries ago though horse harness accoutrements were not only about decoration, they were also about showing ownership, wealth and allegience and in some instances religion and superstition to ward off the evil eye.
Our artefact this month then was found near Reepham and is a rather unusual and richly decorated Medieval gilt copper alloy composite horse harness pendant comprising an elaborate sexfoil frame within which a separate sexfoil is suspended. The divisions between the petals of the former are emphasised by projecting fillets. Cells on the petals of the inner pendant contain dark red enamel and there is a large separate decorative rivet with quatrefoil head with lozengiform central boss. The broken suspension-loop at the top has a projection at the front of the apex and one broken upper perforation and one complete lower perforation, both drilled, for suspension. This horse harness pendant would date circa AD 1200-1400.
Wednesday, July 11, 2018 6:11:00 PM
Our chosen find this month is a middle to late Saxon copper-alloy bow brooch. It was found recently on farmland in Breckland and is notable because of its size, richly cast decoration, and excellent level of preservation. It never ceases to amaze that an object can spend well over a 1000 years in the ground, be subjected to the vagaries of the weather, chemical fertilizers and ploughing and still survive in relatively good condition. Not so for the iron spring and pin mechanism though, as the rusty concretion on the back bears witness to the original location. Iron corrodes much more readily than copper alloy in the ground.
The date of the brooch is circa AD 800-910 and it is of a brooch form now described as Ansate. The term Ansate means ‘handle-shaped’ and it is clear how the brooch style got it's name. The adjacent distribution map uses national data from the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) database and illustrates that the type was particularly popular in Anglo Saxon East Anglia. Full details of the brooch can be found at https://finds.org.uk/database using the reference NMS-EB5046 in the search field.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016 2:59:00 PM
This month we are going back to the Bronze Age to a time when the production, fabrication, development and use of metals was very much in its infancy. The late Bronze Age knife or razor shown below was found near Swaffham and was probably cast in a two-piece clay mould around 800 to 700 BC.
The metal is Bronze which is comprised of copper and tin alloyed together, but it probably also contained a deliberate addition of lead, as the metal-workers of the time had already discovered that this made the metal more fluid when molten and therefore improved the casting process (1). As the drawing shows the leaf-shaped blade is still in surprisingly sharp condition.
Full details of the knife can be seen at www.finds.org.uk using search reference NMS-5BFE67.
Ref 1: A Sample Analysis of British Middle and late Bronze Age material using Optical Spectrometry, M Brown and A Blin-Stoyle.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015 10:04:00 AM
November's Find of the Month is this fantastic Middle – Late Bronze Age anvil.
Bronze Age anvils are very unusual finds, probably because the metalworkers who used them were easily able to melt down broken ones to create new objects.
Almost every surface of this example would have been used to work bronze or gold, with either of the two ‘beaks’ being used to secure the anvil to a wooden block so the other could be used to shape the metal. Each working surface has a different form allowing a wide variety of shapes to be created using just this one anvil.
At the time this anvil was in use, the number and type of personal ornaments made and worn by Bronze Age people increased, and this anvil would have been used to make some of them. The metalworker who used it would have been highly skilled and was probably seen as powerful, important or even as having a religious role in society. We suspect this because the way Bronze Age tools were treated shows they had a meaning or significance beyond their use as tools, suggesting the people who made them had a role which extended beyond their skills as craftspeople.
Find a full description of the anvil here.