An Anglo-Saxon Treasure from Shropshire
Mr John Ellery, HM Senior Coroner for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, held a treasure inquest this morning (16/4/19) into a recently discovered archaeological find.
The find had been reported via The British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme as a result of responsible metal detecting within the county.
The find is a silver early medieval / Saxon pyramidal sword mount discovered in the Culmington area of south Shropshire.
At inquest Mr Ellery found that the find was more than 300 years old when discovered and formed of precious metal (silver) with a content of more than 10%. With this in mind he declared the case Treasure under the 1996 Act.
The find was initially reported to the finds liaison officer for Lancashire and Cumbria, Lydia Prosser. In her specialist report prepared for the coroner, Ms Prosser states that:
“The mount is complete being a four-sided pyramid with a flat, square top. Each face is decorated with an inverted U-shape motif, the terminals of which curl back upon themselves.
“The motif is in shallow relief and set within a recessed panel. The mount is hollow with a square base. An integral bar runs centrally across the underside of the mount and this is how the mount would have been affixed to a scabbard. Traces of gilding are retained in the recessed areas; otherwise, the mount is dark-grey in colour. In size it is around 14mm square and rises to a height of 9mm. It weighs 2.65 grams.”
Dr Sue Brunning, Curator, European Early Medieval Collections at the British Museums, said:
“Pyramidal mounts are well known in Anglo-Saxon and Continental archaeological contexts. Their function is still uncertain, but it seems likely that they were used to help secure the sword in the scabbard, by means of a strap running through the transverse bar on the base.
“Two were famously found in the high-status graves of Sutton Hoo Mound 1, but they are relatively uncommon grave finds. They are, however, familiar as stray finds with ever-increasing numbers recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database. Close parallels decorated with the inverted U-shaped motif are recorded from West Lindsey, Lincolnshire, Drax, North Yorkshire, topped with a garnet; and Newbold Pacey, Warwickshire.”
Peter Reavill, Finds Liaison Officer for Shropshire and Herefordshire, said:
“The discovery of this small but important Anglo-Saxon treasure is immensely important for the County of Shropshire.
“Since the discovery of the Dinham Pommel more than 20 years ago, which is housed in Ludlow Museum, objects related to swords are exceptionally rare. The archaeology of the Corve Dale is extraordinarily rich, but we have very few finds which show this in the post Roman period.”
Shropshire Museums’ Service and Ludlow Museum are interested in acquiring the mount for display locally.
Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council Cabinet member for culture and leisure, said:
“This find further demonstrates the rich history of Shropshire and the stories we have to share and I’m excited to see what else has yet to be discovered.
“Shropshire Museums are interested in acquiring the Saxon pyramidal sword mount to be displayed alongside its’ already wonderful collection.”
Now that this case has been officially declared treasure – the next stage is for them to be independently assessed by a panel known as the Treasure Valuation Committee. They will find the market value of artefact and the museum will be given the option to acquire it. The monies raised will be shared jointly as a reward between the finder and landowner.
If you are interested in exploring Shropshire’s rich history then you can support the friends of Shrewsbury and / or Ludlow Museum (with hyperlinks to their websites)
If you use or are thinking of becoming a metal detectorist yourself, follow this link to learn how to do so responsibly.
More information and images on the cases can be found here:
Images maybe reproduced and used with permission of British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme.
More information about PAS and Treasure can be found here.
Ludlow Museum has a number of important treasures on permanent display including: