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07.01.2021

Pentney Hoard

The Pentney Treasure is an Anglo-Saxon jewelry treasure discovered in a grave yard in Pentney, Norfolk pogost in 1978 consisting of six silver openwork disc brooches, five made entirely of silver and one consisting of silver and copper alloys. The brooches are decorated in the 9th century Truchyddle style. The treasure now lies in the British Museum.

The treasure consists of six silver round brooches. Five brooches are made entirely of silver; the sixth brooch is created on a base of copper alloy and a silver overlay. There are two separate brooches that include the largest and smallest treasure item, and two non-identical pairs. The pairs are similar in layout, but have different decorative details. The brooches are all centered with a cross. The smallest brooch is stylistically dated to the end of the eighth century. The five big brooches can be dated to the beginning of the ninth century. All items in the hoard are intricately decorated in the Truhiddle style. The brooches were in very good condition at the time of discovery. The evidence suggests that all brooches were made in the same workshop. All but the smallest brooch were intact, with the pin, spring and hinge elements intact.

The largest brooch is a silver disc with an intricate openwork pattern, inlaid with black niello. This brooch (10.2 cm) is an excellent example of the Truhiddle style . The outer edge of the brooch contains eight panels of intertwined creatures. The center of the brooch is decorated with stylized animal and plant ornaments. The back of the brooch is not decorated. The pin and spring fittings are intact and decorated with two stylized animals.

The smallest brooch is different in size, construction and ornamentation. It is constructed with riveted quicons , which join face to face with a gilded base plate. The brooch (6.1 cm) consists of an openwork face of silver leaf metal with an uncomplicated intertwined plant ornament, which covers a gilded back of copper alloy. The back of the brooch is unadorned and the pin is damaged. The smallest brooch turned out to be the only brooch worn.

The four disc brooches belong to two non-identical pairs. All four pieces are made of sterling silver leaf with an openwork pattern. They are decorated with intricate floral, animal and geometric designs on the panels surrounding the central cross-shaped area. All brooches were originally topped with a few rivets with bulges; many of the bosses are missing.

One set of brooches (8.3 cm) is decorated with serrated edges and a wide bead. Each brooch of this pair consists of an outer band that is divided into eight pieces of floral and geometric figures. The central part is decorated with four lobes and many panels with exotic animals and stylized plants. The back plates of each piece are unadorned and the rivets are intact.

The other pair of brooches (8.5 cm) has a simpler openwork design and extensive inlay of inlaid black. Each brooch contains an outer band with alternating panels of engravings of plants and animals carved on silver. The central part of the brooch has a simple cross-shaped arrangement with five riveted protrusions. The decoration is divided into four panels of tangled animals inlaid with niello.

Each brooch of this pair has an undecorated back with a riveted pin.

In 1978, William King, a minister at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Pentney, Norfolk, was digging a grave and noticed a round piece of metal embedded in the ground. Removing the metal, he discovered five more metal discs. King gave the artifacts to the rector of the church, who preserved them in the parish chest. Three years later, the church's new rector, John Wilson, found the discs and gave them to the Norwich Castle Museum. The British Museum was asked to appraise the brooches. It was determined that the treasure trove items were Anglo-Saxon silver disc brooches. The finds were declared a treasure trove and the property of the crown. The contents of the hoard were acquired by the British Museum. As the discoverer of the treasure King received £137,000, of which he donated £25,000 to the church.

In 1980, a second excavation and metal discovery was undertaken at the site of the original burial. One silver boss was found, and it was suggested that it was the boss of one of the four missing brooches. Work in 1980 indicated that the treasure was found at a depth of less than 1.52 m (5 ft). 

The five largest items in the hoard, based on a comparison of brooches of similar style, were thought to have been made between 800-840 AD. The smallest brooch, also based on style, was presumed to be from the late eighth century. Scholars have speculated that the hoard may have been buried in the mid-ninth century, during the Viking raids on East Anglia. There was an alternative suggestion that the placement of the six discs in the cemetery occurred for an unknown reason unrelated to the Viking invasion of England.

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