Finds Tray: Early medieval brooch

This is an early medieval brooch made from a gilded silver penny, which was found over a year ago by a metal-detectorist in Wiltshire. It was recently acquired by the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, after having been declared Treasure.

The penny from which the brooch is made was struck in the early 1050s, during the reign of Edward the Confessor (r. 1042-1066). It is a rare variety of the Expanding Cross type that features a small cross pattée (a cross whose arms are narrow at the centre, and flare towards their outer end) in each of the angles between the limbs of the main cross. It is believed these coins came from the mint in Shrewsbury, with two other examples issued by the moneyer Godesbrand: one was found at Nether Wallop, Wiltshire, in 2013 (WILT-C94353 on the PAS database) and the other at Brimpton, West Berkshire, in 1999. The example from Nether Wallop had also been gilded and mounted, while the Brimpton coin received no such treatment. It is notable that all three were found within a relatively small area south of the Thames, relatively far from the original mint.

To modify the coin into a brooch, a hinged pin and catch plate were riveted on to the obverse side; in this case, while the catch plate has since been lost, the rivets that would have held it in place are still present. It was common throughout the Anglo-Saxon period to fashion jewellery out of coins, but it became particularly popular during the second half of the 11th century, during the reigns of Edward the Confessor and continuing past the Norman Conquest under William the Conqueror (r. 1066-1087) and William Rufus (r. 1087-1100). Expanding Cross types were most commonly used, probably for their depiction of the Cross, which could suggest that they were worn as a sort of religious badge.

For more information about this brooch, see https:// or search for WILT-08A4FA on the PAS database.

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 Sophie Hawke, Finds Liaison Officer – Wiltshire.

Text:  Kathryn Krakowka / Image: Surrey County Council