Finds tray – medieval disc brooch

This copper-alloy disc brooch, measuring approximately 27mm in diameter, was found last year by a metal-detectorist in the parish of Thirkleby High and Low with Osgodby, just north of York.

Image: Durham County Council

It is decorated with a red enamel bird, which is seen standing on three-toed feet, looking back over its shoulder with its wings folded into its body. A bar around its neck suggests that it may represent a collared dove. In its short, pointed beak there appears to be a branch or tendril formed of raised metal, which joins with the inner border of the brooch. The outline of the bird and the brooch’s circular border are both filled with red enamel, while small traces remaining in the background cells (which are otherwise empty and have become stained with a green patina) suggest that they too were once filled with this material. On the reverse is a complete catchplate, as well as the remains of a pin lug, which appears to have been recently broken.

Similar bird pins have been dated to the 11th-12th centuries AD, and one such example – found in 2013, south-west of Norwich in the parish of Deopham, and subsequently recorded on the PAS database (search for NMS-C14737) – is decorated with an almost identical bird, even down to the same raised metal dot seen on the facing wing. The only major difference between the two is the colouring, with the Thirkleby example showing a red bird on a red background and the Deopham example a blue bird on a red background. Based on the similarities, it could be that they were made in the same workshop or manufactory.

For more information about this brooch, see or you can search for DUR-711E68 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 Benjamin Westwood, Finds Liaison Officer – the North East (County Durham, Darlington, and Teesside).