Rutland County Museum is closed until further notice due to the Covid-19 pandemic

Posts tagged “Portable Antiquities

Medieval Harness Pendants

My third blog post has advanced forward to the Medieval period (AD 1066 – 1509). The Medieval period has the second largest group of finds recorded from Rutland, totalling at 628. This segment is going to focus on horse harness pendants.

“Harness pendants are decorative items hung from the harness of horses, primarily from the breast band. They were mainly used in the Roman, early-medieval and medieval periods and usually have no function other than as decoration.”[1]

Rutland currently has 19 harness pendants recorded on the PAS database, the majority of these are shield shaped. The shield shaped harness pendants often displayed heraldic arms which would display the household crest, but also could be decorated with animals or geometric shapes. LEIC-F6561C seen below is an example of a heraldic harness pendant and dates to AD 1200 -1400. The mount possibly shows the House of Chichester’s crest. This pendant is decorated with small rectangular enamel squares, the upper two rows in blue, the remaining four red (azure and gules).

Figure 1 LEIC-F6561C
Figure 1 LEIC-F6561C (Leicestershire County Council licence CCBy2.0)

LEIC-2B63F5 is another harness pendant found in Rutland, this pendant is circular and has seven remaining projecting flat sub-circular arms, originally there were eight but one has broken off, these are evenly spaced around its outer edge. One of the arms is pierced to enable the pendant to be suspended.

The pendant has retained traces of blue and red enamel. The complete design is hard to determine, the outer edge of the main body appears to have blue enamel and an inner circle of red, any decoration on the arms is hard to establish due to the pendant being worn and corroded.

Figure 2 LEIC-076CDB
Figure 2 LEIC-076CDB (Leicestershire County Council licence CCBy2.0)

The final pendant I would like to discuss is LEIC-076CDB, what makes this pendant slightly more unique is that it is still attached to its mount. Horse harness pendants are not uncommon finds. 6,336 to date have been recorded on the database, very few of these though are recorded still attached to their mounts.

This mount would have originally had two harness pendants attached but one has broken off. It is decorated with: a red back ground with three gold lions on it, (gules three lions passant guardant or). The decoration on this pendant are associated with the arms of England, and were used between AD 1998 – 1340.

Figure 3 LEIC-076CDB
Figure 3 LEIC-076CDB (Derby Museums Trust licence CCBy2.0)

If you are interested in all the harness pendants found in Rutland, they can be viewed here.

All Medieval finds from Rutland can be viewed here.

Megan Gard

Finds Liaison Officer for Rutland and Leicestershire.

[1] Helen Geake and Rob Webley

Roman Brooches

My second blog post for the festival of archaeology is focusing on the Roman period which spans AD 43 – 410. In Rutland, 648 Roman objects have been recorded, the largest category for finds. Roman finds from Rutland are dominated by coins, which is not unusual, coins are the most recorded object on the entire database. Today though, I thought I would focus on a few lovely brooches which have been found in Rutland.

Roman brooches came in a range of shapes and sizes and styles. Within Rutland there has been a diverse range of brooches found.

The first brooch LEIC-B8C83F isa plate/shield type brooch, rhomboid in shape, small but beautifully decorated with a very well preserved red/orange coloured enamel, present on most of the front face. In the centre there is a projecting boss, which it is uncertain whether it would have been decorated or not.  The pin is missing on this brooch but we can still determine that a hinged pin would have been present by the remaining lug on the rear of the brooch.

Figure 1 LEIC-B8C83F
Figure 1 LEIC-B8C83F (Leicestershire County Council licence CCBy2.0)

Another more elaborately designed Roman plate brooch is LEIC- 7A61E8, as seen below in figure 2. This brooch takes a different form from the previous type and take a sub triangular form. The enamelled decoration takes a different form and although present on the main body, it has preserved fragments of alternating colours remaining in small triangular recessed cells. The bow of the brooch has a zoomorphic terminal and depicts an unknown animal’s head. The pin for this brooch would have been made of iron and of a hinged type, the iron corrosion can be seen on the wings on the brooch.

Figure 2 LEIC-7A61E8
Figure 2 LEIC-7A61E8 (Derby Museums Trust licence CCBy2.0)

The final brooch I have picked out slightly less elaborate than the previously looked at examples, but is a far more common type. LEIC-E80273 is a dolphin type brooch, named so after the high curvature of the bow at the top of the brooch and resemblance to a dolphin. Dolphin, Colchester and their derivative types are more common finds than those depicted above.

Although this example is rather plain, they can be found with incised or moulded decoration, sometimes even geometric patterns can be depicted along the bow. The catchplate has decayed slightly on the back of the bow and much of the pin is missing but the spring mechanism is still preserved within the wings of the brooch.

Figure 3 LEIC-E80273
Figure 3 LEIC-E80273 (Leicestershire County Council licence CCBy2.0)

Many other Roman brooch types have been recorded on the PAS database from Rutland, including a headstud type; LEIC-835757, trumpet variants LEIC-E19145 and bow/fantail types LEIC-6D900F.

The following link directs you to all Roman objects found in Rutland.

Roman objects on PAS database

Megan Gard

Finds Liaison Officer for Rutland and Leicestershire

A History of Finds from Rutland

This year the festival of archaeology has gone digital! It is my first time contributing to the festival of archaeology in Rutland. For this year I thought I would select a few finds from the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) database. Each of the discussed objects will be from a different time period and discussed in small detail, all from Rutland.

To date, there has been a total of 1,995 objects recorded on the PAS database from Rutland. 135 of finds are from the time periods prior to the Roman invasion in AD 43 (Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age).

The earliest dating find recorded from Rutland is LEIC-48DD27 (seen in figure 1), a middle Palaeolithic handaxe, found in Uppingham. This flint handaxe dates to 60,000 – 40,0000 BC. It has been worked on both faces and some edge damage can be seen at the pointed end. Other flint tools were used during this period, such as blades and other lithic implements.

Figure 1 LEIC-48DD27
Figure 1 LEIC-48DD27 (Derby Museums Trust CC licence CCBy2.0)

Flint axes progress over time, changing in style and some becoming smoother in appearance. Eventually, many thousands of years later during the Bronze Age, tools begin to be made of metal. It is important to understand that this change did not happen overnight and that flint continued to be used alongside tools made of metal.

Four copper-alloy axe heads have been found within Rutland, two of these are palstave types, another is a flanged axe head, the other axe head recorded is fragmentary and therefore a type cannot be determined. LEIC-613330 (figure 2) is an example of a palstave axe head. This palstave dates to the middle Bronze Age (1500 – 1300 BC). The example below has a midlobe trident (circled) which allows us to attribute the palstave to a specific type and rough date. In total, to date 763 palstaves have been recorded with the PAS.

Figure 2 LEIC-613330
Figure 2 LEIC-613330 (Derby Museums Trust CC licence CCBy2.0)

A link to all finds from these periods can be found below:

Megan Gard

Finds Liaison Officer for Rutland and Leicestershire