Anglo-Scandinavian stirrup strap mount, Bury St Edmunds

photo of mount front and side

Stirrup strap mount, dating between 10th to 11th century, found near Bury St Edmunds.

Stirrup strap mounts were used to secure the iron stirrup on a horse saddle; the mount was attached to a leather strap from which the stirrup was both suspended and connected to the saddle. Stirrup strap mounts are reasonably widespread across the country, but concentrate particularly in East Anglia and Lincolnshire.

The decoration on this piece is ornate and highly stylised. Facing upwards at the top of the mount is a bird-like beaked creature, below which is a rather degraded coiled interlace design and two further stylised animals facing away from each corner of the mount below. The design is easier to see on the illustration below.

illustration of mount front and side
Illustration of the stirrup strap mount by Donna Wreathall (© SCCAS)

This fused style is extremely well represented on a number of different sorts of objects, but is a particular feature of metalwork of this period and is used on the wide variety of horse-harness and stirrup fittings that developed from the beginning of the 11th century onwards.

Their dating is generally ascribed to the 11th century, though there is evidence to suggest that some were probably being produced and utilised up until the mid 12th century.

During the 10th and 11th centuries in England, particularly during the rule of the ‘Viking dynasty’ of Cnut, Harold I ‘Harefoot’ and Harthacnut (1016-1042), there was an increase in the development of an Anglo-Scandinavian art tradition, merging late Viking art forms (such as the Ringerike and Urnes styles) with native Anglo-Saxon ones. These styles are characterised by their use of ‘zoomorphic’ (animal) motifs demonstrating very long and elongated necks, interlace motifs, tendrilled (ribbon-like) motifs and the frequent use of knotwork.

View the full record on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database

Thank you to the finder for allowing this object to be featured.

This find was recorded by the Suffolk Finds Recording Team, supported by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

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