White-metal gilt ?belt plate
online resourceposted on 2021-10-26, 15:10 authored by Helena HamerowHelena Hamerow
Openwork belt-plate, length 2.5cm x 2 cm. Gilt on some sort of white metal, too hard for silver, brass? Rectangular, with recessed border with punched ornament leaving a reserved zig-zag - but not quite like the normal pattern used with niello-work, and not nielloed. The central openwork area, raised in a marked curve, so that the creature's chest swells outwards. The design consists of a creature, probably one of the fabulous beasts, apparently 3/4 front, with head turned in profile in top left corner facing outwards, feet straddling the lower left corner, something, possibly a wing, reaching up top centre, and what may be a tail extending bottom right and developing into or joining into a complex 'swirled' pattern, which looks foliate in character. The beast's neck and body covered with close 'scale' pattern. This object is quite heavily worn and damaged at its edges. There are two rivet holes in the right-hand corners, one with a round-headed rivet still in position. This is soft silver.N.B. This is not Anglo-Saxon work, but looks like a very clumsy and probably provincial version of early Byzantine ornament. Try for parallels in Italy (cf. the Capua brooch with the winged griffon in openwork) or else in Byzantine influenced area such as Lombard Italy or Visigothic Spain, or even Avar Hungary. But Italy by far the most likely source in view of the other Byzantine material from this cemetery.cf. the belt-fastener from Gilton grave 89, and the now lost sword-pommels.