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8 May 2016

One big jigsaw puzzle…Part 3: A new object revealed

Piece by piece, the item has been coming together with more fragments being fitted in as we have added additional pieces (figure 1).

Figure 1: The connecting piece over several stages of being added to.

The shape is very distorted around the base, and any additional fragments have to be added in a way which retains this final distortion (Figure 2), as well as the original shape. There is a lot missing and worn edges which mean it may not be easy to find attaching fragments for large sections of the object.

Figure 2: The connecting piece with a large section of the base missing.

The assemblage of fragments now consists of an 180˚ semi-circular base which you can see has several full or half rivet holes. These are around the edges and in the middle of the base and would have been used as points for pins, so that it may be fixed onto another structure.

Figure 3: Semi-circular moulded and stained base viewed from above

In the figures 3 and 4, you can see that this object has a part rectangular or possibly a half square shaped cross section for the flat sheet which rises vertically. It is suggested that this cross section would have been encasing something else which rises vertically and then the base is moulded to the shape of something placed horizontally, and fixed into place with pins.

Figure 4: Object from the side with some of the flat sheet showing. 

We can also see in figure 5 that there is another flat half square section within the assemblage which does not fit onto the above piece. This shows the top section of the flat sheet with two rivet holes in the side and one rivet hole on the front. You can also see the half of the strange rectangular hole in the middle which might be another point which the original vertical item would have fitted.

Figure 5: Another section of flat sheet made of 19 fragments which does not fit the above object but is a similar item.

The other flat section (figure 6) fits onto the large constructed piece, but it has taken a little time and patience to be able to support it adequately as still so much of the area at the joining edge is still missing.

Figure 6: Flat section with rectangular hole which attaches to large portion of the object.

The item is made up of 45 fragments in total so it is quite drastic progress from the many fragments we were originally presented with.

Figure 7: Item with other fragment attached as viewed from side.

Figure 8: Moulded semi-circular base of item from above.

From the fragments we have reconstructed, it is very likely that there are two of these half items amongst the assemblage. Work is ongoing, possibly these form two halves of a mounting bracket for a vertical object which stood proud of the plain, but still ornate base.  Could this be the base from an altar or processional cross?, does this have anything to do with the great gold cross? So many new questions to ask…

How this object fits into the Staffordshire Hoard will be ultimately up to Chris Fern (project specialist) to determine, he is currently cresting the definitive catalogue for the hoard and it will be great to see what he has to say.

For the conservation team it is fantastic and exciting to piece together these fragments to form this new object not seen for 1400 years.  Although not a glamorous as other objects in the hoard this object will add further information about what we know about the 7th century.

Kayleigh Fuller,
Hoard conservator