University of Oxford
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Silver-gilt, inlaid copper-alloy buckle, plate and counterplate

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posted on 2021-10-26, 15:10 authored by Helena HamerowHelena Hamerow
Silver-gilt and gold buckle, plate and counterplate. Length of buckle and plate joined, 6 cm with tongue; length of counterplate 4 cm. The buckle, narrow oval with straight bar, has recessed chip-carved panels on either side of plain section under tong tip, and these are filled with competently done guilloche pattern, two strands interlacing to make four loops finishing with loop at each end. Strands grooved and groove filled with niello. At either end flanking bar are sub-rectangular panels bordered with nielloed grooves and filled with nielloed step-pattern pseudo-cloisons. Not identical. Gilding on chip carved parts, and inner edge of buckle where it slopes down at an angle. Tongue plain gilded with flat garnet on gold foil recessed into shield-shaped back. Behind a broken silver hook which once attached it to tongue. Triangular plate with sloping gilded sides; top edge decorated with triangles nielloed to leave zig-zag of silver in reserve. Swollen emplacements for dome-headed gilded rivets, large at foot, smaller at top corners, all encircled with beaded and gilded silver wire. Recessed centre inside sloping gilded edges of frame, and this area occupied by repoussé pale gold sheet with beaded gold wire border, and zoomorphic filigree pattern based on the main outline worked up in repoussé. The design consists of a single ribbon animal all of whose loops are rendered in triple wires laid side by side, all beaded. Granule of gold surrounded by beaded wire for eye, square-ish head frame with backswept piece joining down-curving neck. Single loop with upswept tail may present continuation from head frame. Long open jaws, the upper interlacing with lower and looping up around neck; the lower crossing under neck and over upper jaw and continuing down into narrow part of plate, where it touches a single loop with tail continuing down to bottom of plate. This piece has been bungled here and there is a short strand projecting upwards and outwards from junction of jaw and loop, in an incoherent manner. cf. other plate for better version. The attachment which secured the plate to the tongue was cast in one with the plate, tapering off, and cut to permit tongue hook to pass through and function. It was originally bent over bar of tongue and probably was riveted to belt and tidied away behind a now missing sheet silver backplate. Back of plate hollow, but details obscured by modern plaster. Only rivet shank at foot shows through.Counterplate similar except that where joining plate has curved recess at top to accommodate curved back of tongue, this has quite flat end, broader with curving inner face which has extra single row of nielloed triangles along top. Otherwise similar, except some niello missing from double row of triangles, one dome-head rivet totally missing at top side, and the foot one missing its beaded collar. Filigree pattern similar except at narrow end where jaw laps over one strand of X-loop - extra strand continues down into bottom of plate. Back again obscured by plaster, but 2 rivet shanks show through at top. Backplate missing.


Grave ID

Guilton Grave 23

Object ID


Catalogue Number

M 6018 & M 6019


gilt, gold, white metal, niello, copper alloy, inlay, garnet (Sonia Hawkes Material Notes; gilt, silver, niello, garnet, gold foil) (Antiquarian Material; brass, gold, gilt, garnet)

Complete Keyword List (Including Alternatives)

buckle plate, counter plate (Sonia Hawkes Keyword; buckle plate, counter plate) (Antiquarian Keyword; buckle shank)




National Museums Liverpool


Mayer Collection

Original Collection


Category ID


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