Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gifts of Grandeur: The Milton Jewel, 600-700

The Milton Jewel
This and all related images from
The Victoria and Albert Museum

 This disc brooch, known as the Milton Jewel, is thought to be among the most exceptional examples of Angelo-Saxon jewels of the Seventh to Eighth Centuries. The jeweler employed bronze cloisons (cells) to hold the brooch’s garnets. The piece also boasts filigree knot work adornment on gold sheets and shell bosses. The center shell was once inlaid with garnet while the other shell bosses retain their garnet inlays. The whole piece is mounted on a silver back plate. 

The jewel was discovered in 1832 in a cemetery at Molton, Dorchester-on-Thames. A similar brooch was found nearby. Made between 600 and 700, the jewel was likely produced in Kent, England.

According to the V&A, “The materials used to make this brooch testify to the international trade during the Anglo-Saxons period: the garnets probably came from Sri Lanka, and scientific research on other similar brooches has shown that the white shell is from Mediterranean species.”

The piece is damaged, but considering it was found in a cemetery 1200 years after it was made, it's in great shape.  The V&A acquired the jewel in 1932 along with the other which was found nearby.

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