ANGLO-SAXON JEWELLERY (FIFTH TO SEVENTH CENTURY)—MEROVINGIAN JEWELLERY Part 4: Buckles

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ANGLO-SAXON BUCKLES are either roughly engraved in the manner of Childeric’s signet, or else ornamented with cloisonne inlay. Other rings have a high projecting bezel. Buckles of gold, silver, and bronze, used to fasten the belt or girdle, or employed on some other part of the dress, are particularly abundant in Kentish graves. They vary considerably, many being of particularly good design, set with garnets and ornamented with gold filigree. The largest examples can be assigned to the girdles of men, the smallest and richest to those of women. Some of the best are in the Gibbs Bequest.

One of the finest examples of Anglo-Saxon jewelry is the magnificent gold buckle discovered in a grave near Taplow, Bucks, and now in the British Museum. The base of the tongue and the oval ring-are inlaid with glass pastes upon gold foil; while the buckle plate, enriched with three garnets, is bordered with many graduated rows of finely twisted gold wire, and has its center filled with a sort of vermiculated pattern upon repouss ground.

Women’s graves have generally yielded a number of objects of personal use as well as of adornment. Articles of toilet, such as tweezers, etc., are found by the side of the skeleton, and resemble the modern chatelaine.

There exist, in addition, curious bronze pendants sometimes shaped like a pot-hook, which, found in pairs near the waists of female skeletons, are known generally as girdle-hangers. Their exact purpose was for a long time a mystery, but archaeologists are now mostly of the opinion that they were fastenings for bags or purses suspended from the girdle.

With the exception of the brooch-pin, which is always made of iron, Anglo-Saxon jewelry is almost invariably composed of gold, silver, or of some alloy, and is very rarely of iron, like the buckles found in the Prankish cemeteries. These iron buckles, owing to the perishable nature of their material, are often much disfigured by rust, but many are sufficiently well preserved to exhibit a beautiful and elaborate inlay of silver, sometimes accompanied by gold.

Many examples of them are preserved in the museums of France and Germany. Some are of extraordinary size. The buckle and plate alone of one in the museum at Berne measures no less than 8f by 4I inches and half an inch in thickness. Buckles of this kind have never been found in England.

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Author: connielimon2014

Bead Jewelry Artisan, mother of one daughter and grandmother of two grandsons, daughter of Korean War Veteran.

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