The Cheswardine Mount: Treasure Inquest 6 May 2021
John Ellery, HM Senior Coroner for Shropshire, Telford and the Wrekin, held a treasure inquest yesterday (Thursday 6 May 2021) investigating the circumstances of a recently reported find from Cheswardine near Market Drayton. This discovery was reported through the Portable Antiquities Scheme, having been found by responsible metal detecting
The Cheswardine Mount:
This artefact is really very small, weighing no more than 10 grams and measuring less than an inch in height. It is, however, exquisitely decorated and dates to the Early Medieval period being made during the 9th or 10th centuries (AD 800-950). In shape the mount is bi-conical (a broken pyramid) of which only the domed top part survives. On the four sides of the mount are opposing pairs of decorated triangular panels each with interlaced animals or beasts. One is an upright animal with backward arched head, gaping jaws and lolling tendril-like tongue; the other has a crouched beast or dog with an elongated ear and backward facing head with wide snarling jaws that bite its own tail.
The art style on this piece is known as Trewhiddle decoration after a large hoard of metalwork found in Cornwall and helps securely date the find. However, due to the broken form it is uncertain as to its precise function. One idea that has been suggested is that it forms a small button-like stud that fits to a sword scabbard to secure the leather straps. Although given the date and form of decoration it is maybe more likely to be a fragment from a much bigger form of decorative fitting with bigger diamond shaped panels of which we have lost the bottom parts. The edges on the lower half are recently broken and so it is possible that more parts might be recovered from the same field in the future.
Shropshire Museums have expressed an interest in acquiring these finds, with the hope of displaying them in the Roman galleries at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery.
Peter Reavill, British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme / Birmingham Museums’ Trust, said:-
“The discovery of such a small and intricately detailed piece of decorated metalwork shows the value of working alongside the metal detecting community in Shropshire. The recovery and reporting of this piece will enable a better understanding of the rich and diverse nature of the late Saxon / Early Medieval period in Shropshire.
“In many ways we are a county that sits on the border between Welsh Kingdoms, West Mercia and the wider Danelaw and so the nature of our history is complicated – it is by collecting information about material like this that we can tell a better truer history and it is great that Shropshire Museums are able to acquire this through the Treasure Act.”
Sarah Skelton, Curator, Shropshire Museums, said:-
“This is a precious relic from the Early Medieval period, a time from which few objects survive. Acquiring this artefact helps us to discover more about Shropshire’s history at this time and the way in which cultural styles were shared and traded. Highly decorative metal artefacts like this show us the high status of the people that carried and used them. They help to bring to life a sense of what people were doing in Shropshire in the early medieval period.
“Acquiring this for Shropshire Museums collections and putting it on public display will ensure that local people can see for themselves the exquisite workmanship and craft skill with which this was made, so many years ago.”
Similar recent finds from Shropshire:-
This find will join other Early Medieval discoveries acquired by museums in Shropshire.
Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery: The Ellesmere strap end:
Whitchurch Museum: The Prees Hooked Tags: https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/560071 & https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/473156
Ludlow Museum: Culmington Pyramidal Sword Mount:
Now this find has been declared treasure it will now be valued by the DCMS treasure valuation committee. Once a market value is set, Shropshire Museums will fund raise so that this find can be saved for the people of the county for all to enjoy. The monies raised will then be given to the finders and landowners as a reward.
More information and images of the finds can be found here: please note that images are used with permission of British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme:
Cheswardine Mount: https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/1008945
More information about PAS and Treasure process can be found here:
More Information on Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery can be seen here:
For more information, please contact:
Peter Reavill – Finds Liaison Officer (Shropshire and Herefordshire), Portable Antiquities Scheme
Tel: 01743 254748