Lot 1
  • 1

Early Anglo-Saxon, circa 5th or 6th century

18,000 - 25,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Cruciform Brooch
  • partially gilt and silvered copper alloy and iron, within an early 20th-century glazed frame with explanatory paper and ink label
  • Early Anglo-Saxon, circa 5th or 6th century


Reputedly from Cornwall, England;
private collection, Ireland, probably since the mid 19th century, certainly prior to 1950

Catalogue Note

The Cruciform Brooch is the subject of an extensive study by Toby. F. Martin (The Cruciform Brooch and Anglo-Saxon England, Woodbridge, 2015). Such brooches were worn in Scandinavia, Northern Germany and the Netherlands in the 5th century, but endured in Eastern England until the second half of the 6th century. As such, they are particularly associated with early Anglo-Saxon society. The function of these adornments was to fasten together thick garments. Martin describes a dazzling spectacle: 'Worn on the upper torso, they were often accompanied by festoons of coloured beads, glittering pendants and wrist-clasps, along with items dangling from a girdle such as purses, knives, keys and other paraphernalia. All in all, these were impressive, ostentatious costumes' (op. cit., p. 6). The present example is believed to have been found in Cornwall, though this provenance may be spurious given that the majority of finds have been in the East and North of England. The present brooch falls into Group 4 within Martin's typology and, in common with many brooches from that group, it is 'bichrome' (gilded) and incorporates motifs including beasts. Within this grouping it has close affinities with Type 4.7.1 ('Duston') and finds a strong comparison in the brooch from Rothley, Leicestershire, now in the Charnwood Museum (inv. no. ChM: A36-1990; Martin, op. cit., p. 293, no. 1303).