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This is a complete medieval silver-gilt ring-brooch, dating to the late Saxon - Norman period of the 11th - 12th century AD. Ring-brooches are the most common type medieval brooch to survive and had a practical function: to fasten tunics, especially at the neck. Shaped as rings, with a long central pin, these brooches varied enormously in size and could be tiny, smaller than a fingernail. Ring-brooches were made of costly gold or silver, or of much cheaper copper or pewter. They were worn mostly until the late fourteenth century when changing fashions in dress included more closely tailored clothes and the growing use of button fastenings.
This example is decorated with a biting beasts design, similar to that found on Anglo Saxon strapends. The pin is ungilded and has toned differently to the main silver alloy of the hoop. The pin displays punched annulets, perhaps an early makers mark? It is a nice example in excavated condition, the hoop has a wavy surface from burial.
CULTURE: Medieval / Norman
DATE: c. 1050 - 1150 AD
SIZE: 17mm x 1mm
WEIGHT: 0.86 grams
PROVENANCE: Ex. Private Collection, Durham.