Gold belt buckle


British Museum

British Museum

This buckle was among the very rich grave goods recovered in the late nineteenth century from a burial beneath a mound in the old churchyard at Taplow Court. Like the clasps from Taplow, also in The British Museum, it displays materials and workmanship of the highest quality.

The kidney-shaped loop of the buckle and the basal shield on the tongue are both decorated with garnet cloisonné. Cabochon garnets mark the two bosses at the broad end while the lower boss bears another cloisonné panel. The centre of the triangular plate is formed of gold sheet raised in hooked and curled sections. Each of these sections was then topped with strands of filigree wire that create the disconnected interlace of a single animal body with a head and eye at the right side.

This is one of a series of Anglo-Saxon buckles which combine panels of interlace with tongue shields in cloisonné. It is probably the finest, and the only one of solid gold. Its value is also evident in the all-over cloisonné loop and heavy multiple strands of filigree wire. The quatrefoil or cross-shaped garnet at the end of the buckle is a rare and perhaps significant shape, as it is found primarily on very high-status objects in England and Continental Europe.

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  • Title: Gold belt buckle
  • Date Created: 550/599
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 98.00mm; Width: 47.00mm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: cloisonn
  • Subject: mammal; animal; cross
  • Registration number: 1883,1214.1
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Taplow
  • Period/culture: Early Anglo-Saxon
  • Material: gold; garnet; glass
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Whateley, Charles T E


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