This late medieval silver-gilt strap-end was recently featured in the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and Treasure annual reports. It was discovered in October 2021 by a metal-detectorist in the parish of Worldham in East Hampshire.
Dating to around the 14th century, the strap-end is elaborately decorated with panels of fantastic beasts, similar to those that frequently adorn medieval manuscripts. On the front is a hybrid animal with a long neck, human face, and a feathery downward-hanging tail resting on two bird-like hind legs. The body of the animal appears to be clothed in draped fabric, with the background shaded in with a fine hatched pattern. The top of the panel is decorated with a trefoil pointed arch in a Gothic style. On the reverse panel is a dog-like creature that seems to be standing on its rear legs, with the main part of its body appearing to be concealed behind drapery. Unlike the hatching seen on the front, the background of this panel is decorated with a mosaic of diamonds with small punched dots in their centres. A faint seam runs along the edges of the strap-end, showing that it was constructed out of two separate panels that were soldered together. The space between the two panels is hollow, with a few fibres still present from the cloth belt to which it was once attached.
Most similar strap-ends are made of copper alloy, but a few silver examples are known, such as those previously found in North Dorset (search DOR-764B4D on the PAS database) and West Sussex (SUSS-66D2D3).
For more information about this strap end, see https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/1042002 or search for HAMP-120BDA 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 www.finds.org.uk. Information for this find was provided by Anne Thom, Finds Liaison Officer – Hampshire, who is hosted by Hampshire Cultural Trust.