Finds tray – a gold bulla

This pendant, known as a bulla, was found by a metal-detectorist in the Melton district of Leicestershire in November 2021. It is hemispherical in shape and formed of two plain gold sheets, one formed into a hollow dome and the other flat, to serve as the back plate, with a grooved suspension loop at the top. While the back plate has been broken in several places, it is in otherwise good condition.

Image: Derby Museums Trust

The object measures approximately 15mm in width and more than 18mm in height, and would have once been suspended on a necklace together with other beads and/or a main pendant. Bullae like this one, made out of sheet metal, were common during the 7th century AD, although the majority were made out of silver, with only a small number of gold ones known; a few copper-alloy examples have also been found. This style of bulla was possibly introduced to England as part of a wider imitation of Late Antique jewellery styles during this period, and it is believed to have had a wide distribution throughout Britain.

The most famous example to survive from this period was part of a necklace discovered near Desborough, Northamptonshire, in the 19th century, and is now held by the British Museum (1876,0504.1). Several more recent finds can be seen on the PAS database, however, including one from Elham in Kent (search KENT-C7854D) and another from Sisland in Norfolk (NMS-5C65E9). After being declared treasure by the coroner, this bulla was recently acquired by Leicestershire Museums and is currently on display at Melton Carnegie Museum, Melton Mowbray.

For more information about this bulla, see or search for LEIC-80B505 on the PAS database. The archaeology displays at Melton Carnegie Museum can be viewed digitally here:

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is an initiative to encourage the recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales. For more information on the Scheme, and to browse its database of over 1.5 million finds, visit Information for this find was provided by Megan Gard, Finds Liaison Officer – Leicestershire & Rutland.