Lot 1037: Pre-Viking Gilt Disc Brooch with Interlaced Birds
December 7, 2016
Harwich, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: 7th century AD. A gilt-bronze hollow-formed disc-shaped brooch with a central dot around which are four S-shaped birds with large eyes, curved beaks and bodies formed from interlaced lines; the outer sidewall with line decoration; remains of a catchplate to the reverse. Cf. MacGregor, A. et al. A Summary Catalogue of the Continental Archaeological Collections (Roman Iron Age, Migration Period, Early Medieval), Oxford, 1997, item 2.2; Metropolitan museum of Art, New York, Accession Number: 53.48.6. 14.27 grams, 39mm (1 1/2"). Property of a 19th century collector; thence by descent. Accompanied by a positive X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate. This Scandinavian Vendel period brooch preceds the Viking Era both in history and art style, as we can observe the use of box and disc brooches in both eras. There were lively contacts with continental Europe, and the Scandinavians continued to export iron, fur and slaves; in return they acquired art and innovations, such as the stirrup. Some of the riches were probably acquired through the control of mining districts and the production of iron. The rulers had troops of mounted elite warriors with costly armour, since their graves were found with stirrups and saddle ornaments of birds of prey in gilded bronze with encrusted garnets. The geometric and interlaced patter was popular especially in Scandinavia, although we can find ornaments with similar motif among continental Germanic people. Abstractly designed small brooches like this were fashionable until larger and more massive Viking oval and drum brooches replaced them.
Condition Report: Very fine condition. Rare.