Anglo-Saxon ‘Ansate’ Brooch, Thurston

front, side and underneath of brooch

A copper alloy late Anglo-Saxon ‘ansate’ brooch, found near Thurston.

It has two circular flat terminals connected by a low arched bow and engraved decoration on its outer face. This example is unusual because it seems to have had a composite construction unlike others of its type. These usually have a pin attached to the reverse, allowing them to be secured to clothing rather like a safety pin. Unusually, however, this brooch has no evidence of a pin mechanism and instead there is just a small circular hole through each end, probably indicating where a system of separate iron components was attached with rivets.

Ansate brooches appear to have originated on the continent during the seventh century AD and been adopted in Britain slightly later during the eighth century AD before increasing in popularity here during the following two centuries (Weetch 2014, 230). Interestingly, a small group of similar composite ansates have now been recorded with the national Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) from elsewhere in Suffolk (see PAS database records SF-5ABE33, SF9377, SF-B1A2C2). It is possible that these are of specifically British Manufacture in imitation of their continental counterparts (Faye Minter pers. com.).

drawing of side and front of brooch
Illustration of the ansate brooch.

Weetch, R. 2014. Brooches in Late Anglo-Saxon England within a North West European Context. Unpublished PhD Thesis. The University of Reading.

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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