Early Medieval (Anglo-Scandinavian) strap end, Great Barton

Front, side and reverse image of strap end

An Early Medieval strap end, found near Great Barton was recovered by a metal detector user back in 2011.

This Early Medieval strap end dates to circa AD 800-900. The object is complete and consists of a broadly oval plate which tapers into what is known as a ‘zoomorphic’ terminal because it is stylised in an animal representation. In this case, the terminal has two rounded ears, with a chip-carved triangular recessed motif set between the ears. The terminal tapers into a moulded snout.

The plate is also decorated, containing a series of incised horizontal lines running down the edges. An incised border can be seen on the front face of the plate. Set inside the border, towards the top, is an irregular incised semi-circular or crescentic shape, situated underneath two intact rivets. The rivets hold together the split attachment end, which can be seen in profile view. In the lower portion of the border is an incomplete decorative panel of niello (a black-coloured alloy of sulphur, silver, copper and/or lead), which is inlaid with scrolls of ‘silver wire’.

Strap ends were used to decorate the ends of belts and straps. Their split ends were designed to hold a strap securely in place and help keep it free from fraying; many are recovered with bits of textile remaining in the split attachment. While strap ends were made in the Roman period and the earliest part of the Early Medieval period, they became common in the middle and late periods (circa AD 700-1065). By the late Early Medieval period, their designs became increasingly elaborate and intricately decorated, taking influence from Viking and Carolingian motifs. The ‘silver wire’ design on this example is a distinctive form which shows a clear East Anglian distribution, suggesting they were made locally.

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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