Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/319

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ANGLO-SAXON REMAINS may be compared with specimens in the British Museum from Malton, Cambs, 1 and Long Wittenham, Berks, the ornament on all consisting of stamped patterns produced by means of punches, as was that of another piece of jewellery from the same grave. There was found a disc of gold (fig. n) 2 inches in diameter, which had evidently been attached to a necklace, 2 doubtless composed of the amber beads that also came to light. The bracteate, of which these are examples, is familiar to the student of northern archaeology, and is mainly restricted to a certain period and area. They are seldom found outside the Scandinavian countries, and apart from specimens that clearly belong to a later date, are referred unquestionably to the centuries between 450 and 650.' This of course only limits the date of their manufacture, but it is unlikely that so thin a disc of soft gold, exposed as it was to friction and accident, would last more than an ordinary lifetime. The present example is damaged near the loop and considerably rubbed, but a close examination enables the design to be distinguished sufficiently to range it with a particular Scandinavian series. It now weighs 5 dwt. 1 1 grains, and has an embossed design, the concentric borders being executed by means of punches. The stamps no less than the central device had doubtless a religious signification, but for our present purpose the style of execution is of primary importance. The row of dots near the centre is seen on the large majority of specimens, and may be regarded as the lower out- line of the helmet, which with the head it covered generally occupied a large share of the field. Below was an animal resembling a horse, though sometimes horns are distinctly visible. The figure which is represented by the helmeted head is seen, like the horse, in profile, usually to the left, and sometimes on either side of the rider are seen runic characters and a bird of indeterminate character. This combination of symbols has enabled some of the leading antiquaries of Scandinavia to identify the figures and explain the symbolism from their voluminous mythological records. Even if it were possible to decipher the present specimen, its interpretation would here be out of place, for there can be little doubt that the Longbridge bracteate was imported from Scan- dinavia, and can only by accident throw light on the early condition of the inhabitants of Warwickshire. Suffice it then to say that one of the common types of the gold bracteate is here represented ; and as most of them were connected with the legend of Sigurd, 4 and many bear the swastika of Thor, their origin may be sought in the cult of heroes, among whom the greatest ranked as the national deities of Scandinavia. It is possible to range the more common forms in order of chronology, 1 See also Collectanea Antique, vol. vi. pi. raiv. s Figured in "Journal of Archeeok&cal Institute, xxxiii. 380. 8 Memoirei, 1850 60, p. 291 ; 1866-71, pp. 323, 361 ; Sophus Mliller, NorJische Alterthumi- kunde, ii. 193. 4 Memoiret dt la Societl des Antiquairei du nurd, 1866-71, pi. xvii. figs. 4-1 1, p. 344. 263