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4 May 2016

One big jigsaw puzzle…Part 2: Moulded gilded sheet

As Sue has been working away on the flat sheet, I have been tackling the shapely but distorted sheet metal. This group has been identified as different because it has beautiful iridescent corrosion products (figure 1) on the surface like that of a pearl. It is an optical phenomenon in which the hue of the colour changes with the angle of observation and illumination. These are the likely result of gold, silver, copper and sulphur corrosion products forming or being deposited onto the gilt gold surface, interestingly no other hoard objects show this phenomena.

Figure 1: Iridescent staining on the surface of the fragments

The series of fragments identified are heavily distorted and folded in shape. This presents an interesting but tricky problem when trying to identify joins between the pieces. It is a case where you have to consider that the perfect joins may only be achieved if the pieces are adhered at different angles.

The pieces have a curious shape about them and appear to have folds which are intentional, as if they were molded to fit a particular shape. This has brought up important questions as to whether they could make up face decoration as part of the helmet assemblage.

Figure 2: Moulded corner and moulded shape with piercing in the middle

The dark staining on the edges of some of the fragments helped with assembly. A circular rim with a border section and regular rivet holes was identified (figure 3). This is likely to have been where the sheet metal was attached to other objects. It’s possible again that this is an indicator for the size of reeded strip which may have been used to fix this sheet into place.

Figure 3: Two fragments joined together by identifying the circular border staining.

Figure 4: A section of fragments building up a 90˚ angle circumference.

Although the fragments were slowly coming together, several larger pieces (figure 4) were constructed without a clear way to relate them to each other. One fragment separately stored (figure 5) was key to understanding this and it made the above ideas of this being part of the helmet obsolete.

Figure 5: The connecting fragment in the assemblage

This fragment is key, as it joins the shapely gilded sheet with the flat gilded sheet Sue has been assembling. It brings it all together and presents an entirely different object.

Kayleigh Fuller, Hoard Conservator