Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/320

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A HISTORY OF WARWICKSHIRE and a starting point is afforded by the rude but obvious imitations of Roman coins that may be assigned to the fourth and fifth centuries. A more native art that had profited from contact with Roman craftsman- ship may be seen in the realistic treatment of national legends ; and the degraded forms, which are certainly the more numerous, may be assigned to the late sixth or early seventh century. In the same grave at Longbridge was found a silver bracteate (fig. 7) which is now fragmentary but was ornamented in a more purely mechanical way by means of two punches. In spite of this difference however it is contemporary with the specimen of gold which may be taken to mark the open profession of paganism at the time of this particular burial ; and as no obvious emblems of Christianity have been found in the Saxon graves of Warwickshire, it may be argued that some at least of the remains discussed in the present chapter may well date from the seventh century. Rare as bracteates are in this country, apart from the peculiar examples frequently met with in Kentish graves, Warwickshire has pro- duced yet another, which from internal evidence must be assigned to a somewhat later date than those just described. This is now preserved in the museum of national antiquities at Copenhagen, but its story was laid before the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1774. It is of gold, with a milled or cabled border (fig. 10), and was found on the neck of a skeleton at the base of a grave-mound at Compton Mordock, now known as Compton Verney, near Walton. In the same mound was another skeleton with a second gold pendant, 1 which is ornamented with applied gold wire, having in the centre a stone or glass-paste, and closely resembling a specimen in the British Museum from Wye Down in Kent. A century and a quarter ago there were fewer opportunities of comparison than now exist in the extensive museums of Scandinavia, and there is ample excuse for a faulty attribution of this valuable relic in the original account of its discovery. The mistake was indeed cor- rected in 1855, and two years later the bracteate was published in the Atlas 2 of the Copenhagen Museum on a plate devoted to specimens of a similar character. The descriptive list of the collection was issued in the MJmoires 3 of the northern antiquaries, and rightly compares the Compton example with a sceatta that must however be regarded as subsequent to the year 600 rather than as ' current among the English Christians a little after the fall of the (western) Roman Empire.' The Compton bracteate is an obvious imitation of a coin called the sceatta, current between the time of ^thelbert's conversion and the introduction of the penny by Offa of Mercia, some time after the middle of the eighth century. This allows about 1 50 years for the coinage of these small and somewhat thick pieces, numbers of which have been ' This and the bracteate are figured in Anhttohgia, iii. 371. PI. iii. No. 31; the original sceatta is figured beside it. Vol. for 1850-60, pp. 203-93 ; see especially pp. 232-3. 264