Monday, March 28, 2016

Hoards - miscellaneous

On one side lions moulded in gold were to be seen on the ships, on the other, birds on the tops of the masts  indicated by their movements the winds as they blew, or dragons of various kinds poured fire from their nostrils.  Here there were glittering men of solid gold and silver nearly comparable to live ones, there bulls with necks raised high and legs outstretched were fashioned leaping and roaring like live ones.  One might see dolphins moulded in electrum, and centaurs in the same metal.   
From a description of Swein Forkbeard's fleet in 1013.

The Galloway Hoard

I cannot resist these beautiful artefacts, they appear in hoards that have been found by metal detectorists.  I think what I love about this Viking brooch are the 'biting animals', are those dragons that bite at the shield? or those elegant birds on top pecking away.  This brooch comes from the Galloway, Scottish Hoard

and was part of the treasure trove stored in this bowl below, a silver Carolingian bowl, along with other treasures inside the bowl  These are the objects of the Vikings that we recognise, savage warfare, looting treasure and generally bringing terror to the people around them.  But their jewellry was exquisite,  a fusion with Anglo-Saxon styles, their zoomorphic imagery adorns both stone, gold and silver. Such lovely terms as gripping beasts, you have only to think of the Viking hogback gravestones with bears on either end of the stone roof, gripping the tiles, to realise that the might and ferocity of animals were part of their lives.

“is a really very rare discovery,” says Colleen Batey, an archaeologist and Viking specialist at the University of Glasgow. Only six of these Carolingian vessels have ever been found, and many scholars think they were used during important ceremonies in the Catholic Church. It is possible that Viking raiders stole the Galloway vessel while plundering a wealthy monastery.
Inside the vessel, conservators found a stunning collection of medieval artifacts. Among the most striking are nine silver brooches, some richly ornamented. Most of this jewelry, says Owen, was made by highly skilled Anglo-Saxon metalworkers, and the objects would have been cherished by their owners. For the Vikings to obtain such a collection, says Owen, “some Anglo-Saxon monastery or settlement had a very bad day.”
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The Vale of York Hoard

The Vale of York Bowl
In actual fact the hoard was found near Harrogate in 2007 and has since been over shadowed by the fabulous Staffordshire Hoard, though in all fairness each 'find' is exaggerated by the media.  In the Anglo-Saxon Art book by Leslie Webster there are also four beautiful gold rings with filigree decoration from what appears to be the same hoard.

"The Vale of York Hoard was discovered in North Yorkshire in January 2007 by two metal-detectorists, David and Andrew Whelan, who kept the find intact and promptly reported it to their local Finds Liaison Officer. It was declared Treasure in 2009 and was valued at £1,082,000 by the independent Treasure Valuation Committee. The size and quality of the material in the hoard is remarkable, making it the most important find of its type in Britain for over 150 years."

And having spent a lot of time with hoards, a trip to the Anglo-Saxon Corpus, on volume 3 which lists all the stuff to be found in churches in Eastern Yorkshire, I have completely wasted a morning or have I?

There is a dragon in there somewhere!


  1. I am totally seduced by the beauty of that brooch.

  2. The brooches are very beautiful, but then all the gold work was exquisite.

  3. Great post. Looking for your dragon, all I saw was a fox!! Amazing finds. How I wish I could view them. That's the main problem with living where we do - we are SO far away from everywhere, and a trip to the London Museums can never be a day trip! (I would love a long weekend there to browse in peace.)

  4. Somehow London never does appeal with all those people, the British Museum was so crowded when we went with the family, though it is quite easy to reach on the train.