Posts in Category: Copper alloy

A Brooch from the Brecks 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018 6:11:00 PM Categories: Brooch Copper alloy Metal Metal working Saxon

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.

 

March- A Pummeling Pommel 

Thursday, March 15, 2018 8:54:00 PM Categories: Broadland Copper alloy Medieval Metal Sword

Found in Broadland our Find of the Month this month is a rather large and hefty 13th-14th century sword pommel. Pommel styles are many and varied and this type goes under the unsurprising name of a Wheel pommel. What makes this particular pommel stand out is the decoration and the rather unusual incised inscription which ‘reads’ along the following lines…

 Image of a Medieval sword pommel

 

+ * + B S PCA EIS [small cross, circle with eight radiating rays, cross potent, retrograde B, retrograde S, P, C, inverted A with broken cross bar, E, I, retrograde S]. The inscription is indecipherable to modern interpretation, but bearing in mind that by far the majority of the population in the medieval period was illiterate, it may just be meaningless. The sword Pommel has a number of functions. Firstly, it prevents the hand slipping off the handle and aids a firm grip. Secondly it provides a counterweight to the heavy blade, meaning that the point of balance is shifted just forward of the hilt making the weapon more balanced and easier to handle fluidly. Indeed, to help facilitate this, the inside of the pommel is part-filled with lead.  Finally, Pommels can be used as a weapon in their own right and used to strike the opponent, particularly around the head.  Interestingly, this latter usage is where our modern term pummelling is derived from. 

Full details of this find can be seen at https://finds.org.uk/database using the reference NMS-567099 to search against.

 

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