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Gold pendant

550/699

British Museum

British Museum

This pendant is one of a pair found in a rich female grave with other items: a disc-brooch; a gold pin with a cloisonné and filigree terminal; a Byzantine copper-alloy bowl; an Indian cowrie shell and two amethyst beads. The pendant was struck, like a coin, against a copper-alloy die or matrix. Such pendants were produced in multiples: the two pendants from Wingham are identical and are die-linked to a third pendant found in Grave 134 in the nearby Dover Buckland cemetery.

Each of the four serpents that decorate this pendant is curled so that the head meets the tail; each links with the two adjacent serpents to form a quatrefoil knot. The beaded body is that of a snake but the head has a Style II beak and forward-projecting ear. The serpent knot is enclosed within a beaded ring and stylized Greek key border. The pendant is finished with filigree wire and has a ribbed loop.

Such sheet gold pendants may have evolved from earlier bracteates. Patterns of simple, chain-linked, as opposed to interlaced, serpents appear on Continental and Scandinavian ornaments, as well as other Kentish bracteates. The dotted bodies of the serpents probably imitate the beaded wire used to create animal interlace on contemporary jewellery.

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Details

  • Title: Gold pendant
  • Date Created: 550/699
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 3.20cm (incl loop)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: repouss
  • Subject: animal
  • Registration number: 1879,0524.33
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Wingham
  • Period/culture: Early Anglo-Saxon
  • Material: gold
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased through Rollin & Feuardent. Collected by Londesborough

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