Barbaric splendour: the use of image before and after Rome

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Over the last few months, my colleague Dr Wendy Morrison and I have been organising a conference to be held at the University of Oxford’s Department of Continuing Education on the 14th November 2015.  The name of our day conference is Barbaric splendour: the use of image before and after Rome.  As the title indicates, we want to take a comparative approach to how archaeologists explore the visual cultures of peoples referred to by the classical world as ‘barbarians’.  Appropriately, therefore, our conference is all about bringing together scholars and students of the Late Iron Age and Early Medieval Periods.  This is a subject that has been of some interest to me for a long time.  Similarities between the artistic styles, subjects and contexts of the two periods are considerable and though they have often been casually observed, as far as I am aware, they have not been previously explored in depth. We are not so much interested in drawing lines of continuity between these periods (this isn’t about a transcendent barbarian spirit or culture), but exploring how archaeologists of different period-specific traditions have treated this material, and what we can learn from each other.

We’re thrilled by our lineup of speakers made up of experts from both Iron Age and Early Medieval Archaeology, including Charlotte Behr, Chris Fern, Anna Gannon, Melanie Giles, Chris Gosden, Jody Joy, Siv Kristoffersen, Laurent Olivier and Leslie Webster.

Registration is now open, and you can sign up on our website, where you can also find plenty of other details: https://barbaricsplendour.wordpress.com.

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An interview for “Medieval Herald”

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The Cruciform Brooch and Anglo-Saxon England. You can purchase the book here.

Here’s the transcript for an interview I recently gave for Boydell and Brewer’s Medieval Herald XXII (2015, the original is published here)

Can you tell us about your career in archaeology to date and what lead you to focus on the early middle ages?

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study archaeology as one of my A‐levels at Cirencester College, a town very much steeped in Roman archaeology. Even by that point I think I was hooked and went on to study for a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Oxford. After finishing my degree I worked for an archaeological field unit, whilst also supervising excavations in Romania and Belarus. Following that I studied for my PhD at the University of Sheffield, and now I’m back at the University of Oxford on a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship. The early middle ages have always fascinated me because of the special place they play in our European past. The power of Rome fades and we are left with a lot of unanswered questions about how we get from there to the Norman Conquest. That period was longer than the Roman occupation of Britain, but it is still often glossed over as the ‘Dark Ages’.

For anyone still wondering, describe a cruciform brooch for us.

Cruciform brooches were used by women in the 5th and 6th centuries AD to fasten their clothing. They were quite bulky items of jewellery, often ornamented with intriguing animal and human forms. They start out as these small and simple safety pin‐like objects, but within the space of about a century they develop into enormous gilded plates. Quite why this happened is essentially what the book is about. Not to give too much away, but I think it suggests their meaning adapted dramatically during that period, perhaps due to changes in how communities were constructing their identities using material culture.

And the shape has no link to Christianity, is that right?

No. The name ‘cruciform brooch’ is misleading. Like most archaeology terminology, it’s actually quite a prosaic description of their overall shape, which is formed by the three decorative knobs that protrude from the headplate, and the long foot that extends beneath them. This period, in northwest Europe at least, was pre‐Christian, and some have argued that the kinds of iconography we encounter on jewellery like cruciform brooches may in fact reference pre‐Christian cosmologies involving the animal and human worlds.

Is it possible to trace a single point time or place from which the form originated?

Cruciform brooches emerged at some point in the early part of the 5th century AD. Their geographical origin is important because cruciform brooches appear on our shores around about the time of the documented Anglo‐Saxon migrations. I think we can now be fairly sure that the prototypes of cruciform brooches lie among a group of rather unprepossessing items from northern Germany and southern Jutland known as Nydam brooches. Whether or not that indicates the extent of the migrations to lowland Britain from this part of Europe is another question, but it does indicate the connectedness of these societies around the North Sea.

Why focus on brooches as opposed to other surviving artefacts and jewellery?

During the 5th and 6th centuries AD, brooches start to be worn exclusively worn by women, and they also become larger and more elaborate. Crucially, they also start to be deposited in graves, fastening funerary garments. As such, brooches seem to take on a special role in this period, and it makes them a very useful entry point into thinking about the nature of the societies that produced them. Quite why such value was placed on ostentation using skilfully crafted metalwork is something I am very interested in.

Your book takes a very broad approach and links brooches with identity, specifically Anglian identity. Tell us more about that and what it was in the brooches you examined that led you to this conclusion.

Cruciform brooches have always been fundamental in debates about Anglian identity, precisely because their distribution matches the region in which the Angles from northern Germany settled according to Bede. As such, it’s pretty difficult to study these objects without getting involved in a debate that contributes significantly to present‐day notions of English identity. The very name of our country has its roots among the Angles, whoever they might have been. I wanted to tackle this head on and show how material culture can be intimately involved in how regional identities evolve, rather than just seeing objects as a passive reflection of those identities.

And it’s true that you examined over 2000 brooches in your research?

For artefact specialists, encountering the material first‐hand is an important part of our research. It’s also the most enjoyable part. The experience of holding a possession of someone that lived and was buried with it a millennia and a half ago is a privilege that does not diminish. I went on a tour of most of the local museums in eastern England to document more than 500 brooches. A large portion of my study sample was also taken from the online catalogue of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, an initiative that’s been running since 1997 with the aim of recording objects unearthed by metal detectors and kept in personal collections. There’s a lot you can take from the photos and commentary freely available online, but it will never replace the unique value of first‐hand experience.

Where are most of them and where might our readers view the best examples?

Cruciform brooches are generally found in eastern England, from Kent, East Anglia, the East Midlands, Lincolnshire and the Northeast. Because of their prominence in these regions, local archaeology museums in these places will usually have a few on display. A particularly good place to see a few very fine examples is the recently revamped early medieval gallery at the British Museum, where you’ll also be able to compare them to more exotic related items from all over Europe. It’s a trip I’d highly recommend!

What does your new typology and chronology bring to the study of these brooches? Are you confident they will be accepted?

Typology and chronology are most accurately seen as not so much replacing outmoded models, but rather as building and refining the work that has gone before. Nils Åberg, for instance, built a serviceable typology as long ago as 1926 which is still in use. And it’s still in use for a reason: it offers a very simple but highly practical method of classification into just 5 types. My typology, thanks to the number of new brooches that have been discovered since, features more than 40 types, and the chronology is correspondingly more refined. The level of detail it offers is therefore going to be more useful for some purposes. While I would certainly hope that other researchers found my typology useful, I should emphasise that the scheme itself was conceived around the research questions I wanted to answer. The typology is all about the structure of design, because I was interested in how these objects were conceived in the minds of those who made them. That may or may not be interesting to future researchers, but I’d still very much hope that my model offers a practical solution to a problem of classification that has been around for a while.

What’s next for you now? Have you seen enough brooches or do they still have more to tell us?

Never! Material culture, like historical literature, can always be revisited. There’s an occasional misplaced sense that once a type has been ‘done’ we can move on to the next. Cruciform brooches provide a good example of why that is precisely not the case: they’ve been repeatedly studied since the early 20th century, always with new questions that produce new interpretations. However, once I’d finished writing this book I took a step back and started thinking about the wider context. Eastern England looks terribly small when you start to think that related brooch types were being worn throughout Scandinavia and Continental Europe all the way across to the Crimea. I’m currently working on a project funded by the British Academy to investigate this phenomenon from a more global perspective. Why was it that women in the 5th and 6th centuries AD throughout Europe were wearing such large personal ornaments? To what extent does this show the connectedness of all these places in Europe?


Bringing up the (Anglo-Saxon) bodies

Body

A reconstruction of early Anglo-Saxon feminine dress. The outer garment is a cloak dual-fastened by a pair of cruciform brooches (illustration by L. Martin, © L. Martin).

A few months ago a paper of mine came out in print called  ‘(Ad)Dressing the Anglo-Saxon body: corporeal meanings and artefacts in early England’.  It was published among a collection of papers edited by Paul Blinkhorn and Chris Cumberpatch called The Chiming of Crack’d Bells: Recent Approaches to the Study of Artefacts in Archaeology (see here). The paper was the result of a presentation I gave during a session at the 2012 Theoretical Archaeology Group conference run by Lisa Brundle, called Archaeologies of Bodily Gesture: Exploring Representation and Performance.  That paper was all about early Anglo-Saxon women’s bodies and dress, but in the published form I also wanted to explore some ideas about masculine bodies.

As far as I know, this is the first explicit application of body theory to the dress and jewellery of 5th- and 6th-century Anglo-Saxon England, which I find quite surprising given the prominence of actual bodies and their accoutrements in the archaeology of the period.  My approach was largely social anthropological, the starting point being Marcel Mauss’ classic 1934 essay ‘Les techniques du corps’.  I also wanted to explore some of Rodney Needham’s ideas about left and right from his edited (1973) volume Left and Right: Essays on Dual Symbolic Classification.  I readily admit that neither of these sources of inspiration is particularly cutting edge, but in my opinion both still have a lot to offer.

The paper itself was an offshoot of my work on Anglo-Saxon cruciform brooches.  I realised that there were quite a few under-explored aspects of how these objects were actually worn, and how dress assemblages taken as a whole can help to reconstruct aspects of the dressed body, its shapes and sizes, its possible movements and its habits. Brooches in the archaeology of this period are often treated in quite a dry and technical manner. It’s my ongoing objective to try and put these items back into their lived context, in this case as intimate and formative elements of women’s bodies.

I explored a few different areas in the paper, the major topic being how dress and its accessories shape, conceal and expose areas of the body.  Dress is a means of not only making bodies culturally intelligible, but garments also create the actual, physical bodily form as it appears on an everyday basis. There is something almost theatrical about this performance of what is hidden, what is exposed, when and where.  The ‘why’, of course, is the crucial question. As you might imagine, what we can know about this from the evidence is pretty minimal, but the little we do know  is pretty valuable.  It may well be a cliché, but for me these kinds of questions are crucial to bringing these rusty old items back to life.

I was also interested in the position of glittering items on women’s bodies, and how these positions on the shoulders, throat, breast, wrists and occasionally the waist create constellations of signified body parts which were not only gender-specific, but also seem to have varied with age.  I also considered the depiction of gendered bodies in contemporary iconography of the period, which is almost entirely masculine, and quite explicitly so, and far more focused on heads (resplendent with curled moustaches) than it is on either male or female bodies.  Movement is the final aspect that I explored, looking at the kinds of movements that may or may not have been possible in different costumes, and the noises that some items of jewellery would have created during movement.

Of course, a lot of this kind of research is relatively (and necessarily) speculative, but I think it’s important that when we think about dress and jewellery, we envision it as both dynamic and interdependent on the various bodies that it shapes and creates.

Martin, T.F. 2014. ‘(Ad)Dressing the Anglo-Saxon body: corporeal meanings and artefacts in early England’, in Blinkhorn, P. and Cumberpatch, C. (eds.) The Chiming of Crack’d Bells: Recent Approaches to the Study of Artefacts in Archaeology, 27-38. British Archaeological Reports (International Series) 2677. Oxford: Archaeopress.


Publication date for ‘The Cruciform Brooch and Anglo-Saxon England’

9781843839934

The cover image, featuring an exquisite if unprovenanced brooch originally from the Hattatt collection and now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Just a quick blog to announce that we now have a publication date for my forthcoming book The Cruciform Brooch and Anglo-Saxon England, which will be coming out in April 2015.  Currently, it is available for pre-order from Boydell & Brewer’s website.

It’s quite difficult for me believe that this work I started in 2008 is finally coming to fruition, it’s certainly been both rewarding and challenging in equal measure.  When it does come out, there will be an accompanying electronic dataset for free download from the Archaeological Data Service.

To whet your appetite, here’s the blurb:

Cruciform brooches were large and decorative items of jewellery, frequently used to pin together women’s garments in pre-Christian northwest Europe. Characterised by the strange bestial visages that project from the feet of these dress and cloak fasteners, cruciform brooches were especially common in eastern England during the 5th and 6th centuries AD. For this reason, archaeologists have long associated them with those shadowy tribal originators of the English: the Angles of the Migration period.

This book provides a multifaceted, holistic and contextual analysis of more than 2,000 Anglo-Saxon cruciform brooches. It offers a critical examination of identity in Early Medieval society, suggesting that the idea of being Anglian in post-Roman Britain was not a primordial, tribal identity transplanted from northern Germany, but was at least partly forged through the repeated, prevalent use of dress and material culture. Additionally, the particular women that were buried with cruciform brooches, and indeed their very funerals, played an important role in the process. These ideas are explored through a new typology and an updated chronology for cruciform brooches, alongside considerations of their production, exchange and use. The author also examines their geographical distribution through time and their most common archaeological contexts: the inhumation and cremation cemeteries of early Anglo-Saxon England.

 


Field notes 1: Stavanger, Norway

On Friday I finished a week’s work at the Arkeologisk museum i Stavanger, recording about a hundred or so Migration Period brooches as part of the fieldwork element of my postdoctoral project.

During my time in Stavanger I also had the opportunity to explore the town and learn a little about its history.  These days, cruise ships aside, Stavanger derives considerable wealth from its offshore oil rigs, and it has a whole museum dedicated to to the history and processes of extracting oil from the sea floor, replete with (perhaps a few too many) tiny scale models of rigs.  The colossal, earth-shattering drills, however, were my favourite bits.

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What is this? An oil rig for ants?


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Drillbits

From the late 19th century to the 1960s, however, Stavanger was a relatively poor town, with an industry based on canning fish. Indeed, the town has a canning museum too, located on the site of one of the old factories, where you get to relive the godawful experience these people (and children) lived through by seeing if you could fill a tin with plastic sardines in 6 seconds.  It took butterfingers here 15 seconds.  Though I would’ve been sacked, I’m proud to say that all the little fish were put to bed especially neatly in strict typological order.

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The highlight was all the old sardine tins, if you’re into that kind of thing

Petroleum and little fish aside, my time at the museum was very fruitful indeed.  It was a real pleasure to work under the generous guidance of the extraordinarily knowledgable staff of the museum.  I really couldn’t have asked for much more.  Despite having spent some months trawling through the Norwegian literature and catalogues, there really is no substitute for listening to the people who have worked with their collection for years, and have a seemingly encyclopaedic and highly valuable knowledge of the region.

This alone is reason enough to travel so far to visit the collection first hand. The other invaluable thing about handling these objects is that you notice aspects you haven’t before.  Spend too much time looking through catalogues, and it becomes hard to imagine these items as anything more than two-dimensional diagrams.  In the flesh, you not only notice more, but you also remember the power of material culture to inspire thought and insight.  To me it’s the equivalent of reading a primary text rather than the notes someone else had made on it.

Consequently, with just a few days handling these objects (it’s been nearly 3 years since I was last doing this kind of work), I’ve already thought of a couple of articles I’d like to write.

This time round, I’ve pared down my recording technique.  During my PhD research, I took along an array of equipment and pro forma sheets for recording each object in infinitesimal detail.  I took close to 40 measurements of each item, to a tenth of a millimetre, as well as extensive written notes on the placement of certain decorative aspects, and so on.  This led to quite an extraordinarily detailed dataset, but it was arduous and time consuming. Very little of it ever turned out to be useful for the project at hand. Additionally, this level of detail is entirely unfeasible for my present, much larger project.

This time around, I’m using just a camera and a notebook.  I’m taking high quality images of the fronts, reverses and profiles of each item as standard, plus detailed shots of anything I find interesting.  This could be a number of things, including close-ups of tiny punched decoration, iconographic motifs, technical details to do with casting technologies, repairs or wear patterns.

I use my notebook to jot down summary descriptions of each item, if necessary, plus any other details of interest. Usually this is to do with unique or at least rare characteristics, perhaps notes on where I’ve seen such features before.  I also have some small sketches of details I’m worried might not show up in the photography, or to remind me what to look out for in those photos.

notebook

My trusty notebook

My notebook also includes critical details like museum (accession) numbers and running photo identification numbers, which allows me to locate the photos of particular objects when I get back home and have to deal with all these data.  This is perhaps the most important aspect given that in just a week I have already accumulated more than 2,600 photos.  These of course need to be sifted through as most photos are bracketed (3 shots of each view, taken at high, low and supposedly ideal exposure).  Needless to say, my notepad and backup hard drive are at present probably more precious to me than my passport.

After a long (and at times precipitous) train journey, I arrived in Oslo last night.  I’ll be here for a few days working with the university’s collection. Watch this space!


The Migration Period brooches of Norway (research update)

R259

An enormous relief brooch from Dalem, Nord-Trondelag, Norway (length = c. 23cm). This fine illustration is taken from Oluf Rygh’s Norske Oldsager (Fig.259)

During the last few weeks I’ve been compiling a catalogue of 5th- and 6th-century brooches from Norway. Due to the scope of my project, these have only been taken from published sources and compiled with the indispensable help of the Universitetsmuseenes arkeologisamlinger (Norway’s online catalogue of its university collections). By far the largest and most useful of the published catalogues are Joachim Reichstein’s (1975) corpus of cruciform brooches, and Thorlief Sjøvold’s (1993) corpus of relief brooches. No doubt, this leaves out a number of more recent finds, but the numbers are sufficient to show an overview of the kinds of patterns these finds follow. Currently, I’m working on the rest of Scandinavia, the Netherlands and northern Germany.

In addition to relief brooches and cruciform brooches, which were the two largest and most decorative varieties of brooch worn in Migration Period Norway, I have also included a sample of the less impressive types. For the most part, these are small, plain bow brooches usually known as “R243” brooches thanks to their place in Oluf Rygh’s (1885) famous catalogue, as well a variety of plain tiny equal arm brooches that come in relatively late in the Migration Period and do not have a standardised name in the English literature, but are usually referred to as likearmede spenner in the Norwegian (Jennsen 1998). In addition to these four major types, there are also a number of what are probably best described as the Norwegian equivalents of Anglo-Saxon small long brooches, some wonderfully serpentine s-brooches, a handful of Nydam brooches and a few other minor varieties.  Although this is work in progress, the distribution of these brooches in Norway predictably follows patterns of overall burial.

Norway

The distribution of just over 800 Migration Period brooches in Norway, focused in the southwest but spreading right up the thin western coastal strip

For someone more familiar with the archaeological record of early Anglo-Saxon England, Migration Period Norway presents its own difficulties, but also some points of exceptional interest. The fact that burial in Norway usually involved barrows means that their location was obvious to the barrow diggers and archaeological pioneers of the 19th century. Hence, a relatively large proportion of the extant record was explored quite early in the history of our subject. Founders of early medieval typology and chronology like Oscar Montelius, Oluf Rygh, Bernhard Salin, Haakon Schetelig and Nils Åberg seized upon these rich resources to create systems and catalogues that are still in use today.

By modern standards, the earliest excavations were scientific only to a mixed degree, and our record of many of these barrows sometimes only comprises a mixed or incomplete assemblage of a number of burials all mixed together into one assemblage. Bone seems to have only rarely survived into the present day. There are very few cemeteries indeed that have been extensively excavated, let alone recorded to modern standards.

On the upside, the mass of material assemblages excavated at such an early stage meant that Scandinavian typologies and chronologies were developed much earlier and on a firmer basis than their English equivalents. Indeed, they still provide a solid basis for ongoing work. On the downside, the nature of Norwegian cemeteries and their frequently piecemeal excavation has made the kind of mass comparisons of grave goods, demography and cemetery structure that have long been staples of Anglo-Saxon and Mervovingian burial archaeology somewhat trickier, though certainly not impossible.

One exceptional opportunity that the Norwegian offer is the potential for looking at long-term continuity. The mountainous terrain of the northwest coast of Norway and the scarcity of agricultural land made continuity of settlement almost a necessity. A large number of these barrow cemeteries span the Roman Iron Age, Migration Period and even the Viking Period – a very rare thing in a period more generally characterised by major breaks in tradition, or at least rapid transition.

The nature of Norwegian brooches also differs from the Anglo-Saxon sample in aesthetic terms. Scandinavia relief brooches, a large number of which come from Norway, without doubt constitute some of the artistic masterpieces of the age. Some of these items, such as the relief brooch illustrated above, are simply quite stunning to behold and represent a higher degree of metalworking mastery than can be found in Anglo-Saxon England at this date.  It is a simple yet highly intriguing fact that a relatively larger number of the the Norwegian brooches are silver gilt as opposed to copper alloy (though I expect the same is true for the Continental brooches too). Norwegian relief brooches, and even more so cruciform brooches, grew into complex three-dimensional forms, deeply moulded and beautifully curved making their Anglo-Saxon equivalents appear very flat and indeed flatter as their development continued.

Of course, cataloguing all this material is only the first phase of my work, but thanks to the accumulated work of other scholars over the last century or so my task has been made immeasurably easier, as there are readily available catalogues for the majority of the core brooch types.  My ultimate task, however, is to begin to combine all of this collected scholarship and see what interest can be drawn out from inter-regional comparison.

References

Jenssen, A. 1998. Likearmede spenner. Overgangen mellom eldre og yngre jernalder i Norge – en kronologisk analyse. Unpublished Master’s thesis, Universitetet i Bergen

Reichstein, J. 1975. Die kreuzförmige Fibel. Neumunster: Karl Wachholtz.

Rygh, O. 1885. Norske Oldsager: Ordnede og Forklarede. Christiania: Alb Cammermeyer.

Sjøvold, T. 1993. The Scandinavian Relief Brooches of the Migration Period. Oslo: Institutt for arkeologi, kunsthistorie og numismatikk oldsaksamlingen.


‘Odin’s breath’ and a New Type of Cruciform Brooch

During my ongoing research on early Anglo-Saxon cruciform brooches, I’ve come across a number of frustratingly unclassifiable fragments, so far only recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database.  Although they looked so much like they came from the so-called “florid” series of cruciform brooches (and the PAS recorded them as such), this was not strictly demonstrable.  Nothing larger than these little plates, to my knowledge, had yet been found (I link to all 10 of these fragments at the bottom of this blog).

One of the mysterious fragments recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database (NMS-312CA1)

One of the mysterious fragments recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database (NMS-312CA1)

Among the cruciform brooch series they seemed unusual.  They have an uncharacteristic square outline, and the decoration is strikingly realistic among the more abstract and compositionally complex decoration that is typical of the period.  They are decorated, quite clearly, with unambiguous human faces, staring out at us with wide eyes, chubby cheeks and occasionally open mouths, apparently focusing a stream of breath towards us.  Occasionally, this motif is referred to as a ‘divine breath’ or a ‘tongue of fire’.  Some (perhaps overly imaginative) accounts have even referred to this motif as the breath of Odin, probably referring to the story where he breaths life into Ask and Embla, the equivalents of Adam and Eve in Norse mythology.

Needless to say, these items were produced considerably earlier (5th-6th century) than the Norse myths were written down (13th century), which makes such a specific link extremely tenuous.  That is not to say these motifs did not have specific symbolic significances, but we might equally see the mask as singing or shouting, especially in those other cases of the motif where from the mouth seems to issue forth a plethora of symbols (in a form of animal art known as Salin’s Style I).  This is depicted in the drawing of another cruciform brooches below.   A triangular field containing two crouched beasts (perhaps amphibious ones judging from their tapering bodies) erupt from the mouth of the moustachioed human mask.

Another example of the open-mouthed human mask motif, from a cruciform brooch from grave 81, Empingham II, Rutland (drawing by T. Martin)

Another example of the open-mouthed human mask motif, from a cruciform brooch from grave 81, Empingham II, Rutland (drawing by T. Martin)

The one thing that I did note down as important on the unclassified fragments was the occasional presence of up-curled eyebrows or fringes, a feature seen among a small group of “florid” cruciform brooches (which happen to fall into my sub-group 4.6).   I used this observation to loosely associate these fragments with that classification.  The other unusual thing about that sub-group, is that they have perfectly square head-plates, lacking the flanking wings seen on nearly all other cruciform brooches.  For these two reasons, I grouped them all together in the hope that one day a complete example would be found that shared similar traits.

Lo and behold, a larger example has finally arrived on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database with both of these features: a square head-plate and a human face with up-curled eyebrows.  It’s still a pretty fragmented specimen, but in my opinion it’s enough to conclusively identify these fragments as parts of cruciform brooches.  Interestingly, it’s only the knob at the top of the head-plate that is furnished with up-curled eyebrows (or hair), which explains the rarity of this feature among the other examples.  Differential treatment of the top-knob among the “florid” series of cruciform brooches is a relatively late trait.

Cruciform brooch head-plate from Marham, Norfolk (NMS-13B110 on the PAS database)

These new cruciform brooches actually represent quite an important group, probably being among the latest in the whole series, dating approximately to a point around the mid-6th century AD.  However, among this group they are very unusual for not being gilded and silvered (a decorative technique known as “bichrome”).  Based on that fact, one might be able to make an argument for them being a little earlier than this.  There is little unusual about their distribution, which is concentrated in Lincolnshire and Norfolk.

The only downside to this discovery is that I found out about it pretty much the day I submitted my manuscript that details a new typology for cruciform brooches…

 

Known examples of the new type

NMS-13B110PAS record number: NMS-13B110

Object type: Brooch

Broadperiod: Early Medieval

County of discovery: Norfolk

Stable url: http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/597117

LIN-FE8EA4

 

PAS record number: LIN-FE8EA4

Object type: Brooch

Broadperiod: Early Medieval

County of discovery: Lincolnshire

Stable url: http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/154169

 

ESS-0C29F8ESS-0C29F8PAS record number: ESS-0C29F8

Object type: Brooch

Broadperiod: Early Medieval

County of discovery: Essex

Stable url: http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/79085

 

NCL-C90E94PAS record number: NCL-C90E94

Object type: Brooch

Broadperiod: Early Medieval

County of discovery: North Yorkshire

Stable url: http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/384278

 

NMS-E911A6PAS record number: NMS-E911A6

Object type: Brooch

Broadperiod: Early Medieval

County of discovery: Norfolk

Stable url: http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/141708

 

NMS-5D0970PAS record number: NMS-5D0970

Object type: Brooch

Broadperiod: Early Medieval

County of discovery: Norfolk

Stable url: http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/235055

 

NMS-55AC65PAS record number: NMS-55AC65

Object type: Brooch

Broadperiod: Early Medieval

County of discovery: Norfolk

Stable url: http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/181112

 

NLM-CDB1D0PAS record number: NLM-CDB1D0

Object type: Brooch

Broadperiod: Early Medieval

County of discovery: Lincolnshire

Stable url: http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/51263

 

NMS-312CA1NMS-312CA1PAS record number: NMS-312CA1

Object type: Brooch

Broadperiod: Early Medieval

County of discovery: Norfolk

Stable url: http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/383504

 

NLM4175PAS record number: NLM4175

Object type: Brooch

Broadperiod: Early Medieval

County of discovery: Lincolnshire

Stable url: http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/11545

 

NCL-D4DF11PAS record number: NCL-D4DF11

Object type: Brooch

Broadperiod: Early Medieval

County of discovery: North Yorkshire

Stable url: http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/108656

 

Finally, there is a single possible lead example, though I think I am now more inclined to see it as a fragment of some kind of mount, quite possible from a horse harness given its stylistic similarity to some other examples:

 

LIN-7E9045

PAS record number: LIN-7E9045

Object type: Brooch

Broadperiod: Early Medieval

County of discovery: Lincolnshire

Stable url: http://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/143676