January 21, 2014
Gold belt buckle from the ship burial at Sutton Hoo
Anglo-Saxon, early 7th century AD
From Mound 1, Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, England
Like most Anglo-Saxons, the man who was buried at Sutton Hoo wore a waist belt. These were fastened with buckles whose metal and decoration reflected the wealth and status of their owner. From the belt usually hung a knife, and occasionally a leather pouch to hold personal possessions.
This magnificent buckle was made of gold and weighs 412.7 grams. It is hollow and made in two parts joined by a hinge placed on the back beneath the loop. The master-craftsman who made it devised a locking system involving a complex system of sliders and internal rods which fit into slotted fixings. These fill the interior leaving little space for the safe storage of a relic, a function which has been suggested for such hollow, high-status buckles (see the buckle from Crundale, also in the British Museum). Reliquaries in the form of belt buckles are well known from the continent.
The surface of the buckle and the tongue plate are decorated with writhing snakes and intertwining four legged beasts. Their bodies are highlighted with punched ornament filled with black niello. At the tip of the buckle, two animals gently hold a tiny dog-like creature in their gaping jaws. These, together with the two birds’ heads on the shoulders with cruel, curving beaks, make this buckle one of the most powerful images from early Anglo-Saxon England.

Gold belt buckle from the ship burial at Sutton Hoo

Anglo-Saxon, early 7th century AD

From Mound 1, Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, England

Like most Anglo-Saxons, the man who was buried at Sutton Hoo wore a waist belt. These were fastened with buckles whose metal and decoration reflected the wealth and status of their owner. From the belt usually hung a knife, and occasionally a leather pouch to hold personal possessions.

This magnificent buckle was made of gold and weighs 412.7 grams. It is hollow and made in two parts joined by a hinge placed on the back beneath the loop. The master-craftsman who made it devised a locking system involving a complex system of sliders and internal rods which fit into slotted fixings. These fill the interior leaving little space for the safe storage of a relic, a function which has been suggested for such hollow, high-status buckles (see the buckle from Crundale, also in the British Museum). Reliquaries in the form of belt buckles are well known from the continent.

The surface of the buckle and the tongue plate are decorated with writhing snakes and intertwining four legged beasts. Their bodies are highlighted with punched ornament filled with black niello. At the tip of the buckle, two animals gently hold a tiny dog-like creature in their gaping jaws. These, together with the two birds’ heads on the shoulders with cruel, curving beaks, make this buckle one of the most powerful images from early Anglo-Saxon England.

  1. ravenrook reblogged this from darksilenceinsuburbia
  2. picasoeljimadore reblogged this from darksilenceinsuburbia and added:
    I watched a Documentary and in it they said the weight of gold in this belt buckle was worth at the time what the cost...
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  10. alwayslooking39 reblogged this from feedyourwanderlust and added:
    Both buckles are beautifully designed & show a high degree of sophitication. Amazing for that time period. Thank you.
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