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Copper-alloy buckle

Medieval, 13th-15th century.

Found in the 1970s during excavations of the archaeological section of the Winchester Museum on Victoria Road, Winchester, Hampshire.

This rather elaborate large buckle is missing a pin that must have entered the grooves in the center of the two slats on the right. There are traces of iron around the center bar, probably from a folded fastening plate that has not survived.

Belts were an important feature of early medieval clothing. Not only did they serve the practical function of storing weapons and tools, but their devices, which could vary in material, finish and size, were also very visible indicators of rank and status. Iron buckles, many imposing in size, were worn by both men and women. Their intricate decoration was achieved by pressing narrow twisted strips of silver into patterns engraved on the surface of prefabricated iron pieces. A complete belt must have consisted of a buckle, a reciprocal plate that was placed opposite the buckle, and sometimes a rectangular plate placed in the middle of the belt at the back for decoration.