Early Medieval lozengiform strip brooch, Ousden

Front and reverse of brooch

This Early Medieval strip brooch was found by a local metal detector user near Ousden in 2020.

Strip brooches are so named because they were made from a single piece of copper-alloy, a ‘strip’. They would have been worn as dress accessories.

This brooch is almost complete, missing only the spring and pin. It consists of a flat, lozenge-shaped plate, which is elongated at the bottom to form a backwards-facing hooked catchplate. The opposite sprung end is damaged.

Usually, Early Medieval strip brooches were made in one of two ways: either the catchplate and the pin were integrally cast in one piece, or the plate contained a separate, riveted spring; this example seems to have been made using the latter method.

The front face of the brooch is decorated with an intricate, symmetrical interlace. Traces of gilding also remain on the front face, and so the brooch would have been visually striking.

Drawing of brooch piece
illustration by Donna Wreathall © SCCAS

Strip brooches broadly date to between circa 600-800 AD, with the lozengiform type emerging around 700 AD. The interlace decoration on the front of this brooch is typical of ‘Mercian’ style. The Mercian kingdom expanded into East Anglia at this time, so it is not surprising to have found this brooch in Suffolk.

Recent interpretations suggest that the presence of Mercian motifs on dress accessories such as brooches may have been a way for local elites to express their loyalty to Mercia or for Mercian elites to express their status within the politically turbulent 8th century East Anglia.

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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