Anglo-Scandinavian, 2nd half of the 11th century AD Found
in Pitney, Somerset, England
An entwined animal and snake in combat
This elegant openwork brooch was found in a churchyard. The skill needed to
make it indicates that it was probably worn by a man or woman of some
importance, and the brooch would have been considered a symbol of prestige.
The main ornament is a snake with round eyes biting the underside of a
four-legged animal, which in turn bites itself. A row of beads runs along the
underside of the animal which is stretched into a looped ribbon. Its hips are
marked with spirals and a spindly front and back leg are shown.
The brooch is a rare and fine example of the combination of Scandinavian and
English art styles. The design, with its plant-like tendrils and ribbon animals,
is an English version of the final phase of Viking art, the Urnes Style.
However, the delicate beading which picks out the main animal, and the scalloped
border of the brooch are both Anglo-Saxon features.
The brooch was cast in bronze with a slightly
convex form, then gilded on both side. The reverse is
plain, and still retains some fixings for the missing pin.
E. Roesdahl and D.M. Wilson (eds), From Viking to Crusader: Scand,
Nordic Council of Ministers, 22nd Council of Europe Exhibition (Sweden,
D.M. Wilson, Anglo-Saxon art (London, Thames and Hudson, 1984)
J. Backhouse, D.H. Turner and L. Webster (eds.), The golden age of
Anglo-Saxon, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)