University of Oxford
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Openwork leather fragment with copper-alloy hook, associated with knife

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posted on 2021-10-27, 07:31 authored by Helena HamerowHelena Hamerow
Inventorium Sepulchrale, page 152, note: \This leather would rather appear to have been a portion of a girdle. A piece very similar in pattern was found at Chartham by Dr. Mortimer who distinctly says it had been fastened with a buckle which he describes and gives a drawing of. Mr. Faussett also indicates other examples at Kingston No. 142 at Sibertswold No. 180; and No. 38 Beakesbourne. The pattern is not unlike that of some of the Roman sandals found in London; and the mode of punching the leather appears to have been the same as was used in the ornamental work of the Roman sandals and in the shoes of the middle ages. See Illustrated Catalogue of London Antiquities plates ix xii and xiii.- C.R.S.\""Fragment of a leather belt, max. length 7 cm., width 4.5cm. Stuck onto glass and now in airtight glass box, and not disturbed for fear of upsetting balance. Drawn and photographed through glass.The broader (upper in drawing) edge shows a fragment of outer edge with two layers of leather separated, tooled cross-hatching and little holes which may be stitching holes, then 2 broad grooves, then a wide zone with tooled cross-hatching - rather sharp incisions in places; then a single band of square open holes, then a band of openwork with triangles at sides and lozenge in centre, bordered by straight bands, all leather strips having median grooves; then a band of openwork with two rows of rectangles, leather strips again with median grooves, and then another border with tooled diagonal lines between horizontal grooves - outer edge here crumbled away. The fragment of complete border at top has a small catch riveted through it; i.e. sort of catch that frequently occurs in graves where leather not preserved; flat disc end pierced by rivet, short broad shank with decorative moulding - transverse grooves - at either end - and then a broken end similar to complete disc, wither an open hook originally or another rivet emplacement, but probably a hook. This lies also on the leather, and not easy to see how it worked. Did it engage another metal fitting, or attach something slight?MS Diary, V, p. 14 fig. 3 on p. 13 verso. A reconstruction evidently, and not perfectly accurate as to detail. Faussett says 3 in. long, 2 in. broad, but as he shows no pieces of width extra to the existing fragment, this must be approximate. p. 28, fig. in bottom left corner, by HGF (watercolour) shows fragment in much the condition it is now - evidently it has survived well - though with some fragments lost from ends. The catch in same position as now, and shown broken as now.Inv. Sep., p. 152, fig. A restored, or partly restored, view, based on Faussett and not very accurate.MS 723 folio 36, restored view.Original label: 'The outer covering of the sheath of a knife Beakesbourne 1773'Faussett compares to a fragment of leather with silver catches from Sibertswold grave 180. cf. also Chartham Down fragment, from Mortimer's excavations, Inventorium Sepulchrale, p. 166, described as a piece of leather 1/2 inch broad, neatly punched in form of lozenges. Faussett thought part of sheath of knife. Clearly a belt, however. To compare Continental egs. better preserved, from St. Denis, Cologne, etc.


Grave ID

Bekesbourne Grave 30

Object ID


Catalogue Number

M 6710


leather, copper alloy, organic (Sonia Hawkes Material Notes; leather, bronze) (Antiquarian Material; leather, brass)

Complete Keyword List (Including Alternatives)

organic container, hook, openwork leather (Sonia Hawkes Keyword; belt) (Antiquarian Keyword; openwork doubled leather sheath)




National Museums Liverpool


Mayer Collection

Original Collection


Category ID


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    The Novum Inventorium Sepulchrale


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