A lucky metal-detectorist stumbled upon an ornate yet battered piece of shiny stuff when out and about in a UK field. The village of Langham in Rutland has a rich history of settlement stretching back to Anglo-Saxon days and beyond. So it’s not uncommon to find people with detectors and other gadgets in a search for the next iconic treasure. Although perhaps inconspicuous, this new find is indeed a treasure by law, thanks to the fact it’s made of gilded silver. This mix of silver and gold gild makes the item extremely precious and with its age in the equation, the artefact could be considered priceless.
Although it is clearly of Anglo-Saxon design and from the time of the 8th Century, the actual purpose is the object is unknown. Archaeologists cannot decide between them what it could have been used for. A small dish shaped design with an ornate edging and an animal motif on the top, the pretty object is one of a kind. Perhaps a bespoke creation made by an artisan for a particular need or simply the lesser-known version of something else that never made it past the honeymoon, the possible uses are unending. Some kind of stopper, the protective stub on a walking stick, or an ornamental counter in a collection or a game? Maybe one day we’ll find more solid examples in literature or art hiding in plain view.
Two almost similar items have been found in copper and with different shapes, however the craft used to create this new find is something above and beyond. Great care was taken to perfect the design and to make the object as beautiful as possible, using only the best metals. This attention to detail and glory perhaps signifies it had a religious significance, maybe it once carried anointing oil or ash. Or maybe it simply belonged to a wealthy individual who wanted to demonstrate their power by commissioning such a magnificent and unique example.
A drawing in the Book of Kells, an ancient version of the Bible, is said to be quite similar to the weave design on the mystery object. Others say it more resembles a image in the Lindisfarne Gospel, another early Christian text with aesthetic roots in traditional indigenous beliefs. The iconography of this pattern clearly signifies a cultural heritage and the continuation of a theme beyond the pages of a particular book.
What do you think it was used for? Would you be proud to have discovered this item? What would you call it?
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