The Mystery Object
October 14, 2011
Three pieces of the Hoard have been identified as belonging to one object, but no one is sure what the object once was.
A number of very tentative suggestions have been made as to what it MIGHT be (see below), but none have met with general agreement. So, the field is wide open for you to put forward your opinion.
The three bits of the mystery object fit together as follows:
The millefiori mount K545 has a rectangular hole and four small round holes on the back which match the rectangular protrusion and circular holes on the top end of the cylinder K1055, so K1055 clearly slotted into the back of K545. K545 is made up of two components, a base plate with a cloisonne garnet border and the top with the mounted glass checkerboard gem. When these two components are separated, you can see that the rectangular protrusion passed through the base plate and into the back of the gem mount. The circular holes also appear in the back of the gem mount.
As already mentioned, the cylinder K1055 has the rectangular protrusion and four circular holes at the top end. At the bottom end are four matching circular holes and the torn remains of a silver plate with clear evidence that the same rivet holes also passed through it. The torn edge of this silver plate matches precisely the torn edge at the centre of a circular silver disc which was set at the inner apex of K130, showing that these two pieces of silver were originally one object, which means that K1055 and K130 joined.
The elaborate gold piece K130 was originally circular and somewhat domed, but has been squashed, and rather damaged at one side. It is decorated with splendid cloisonne garnet designs and added gold plates with zoomorpic decoration of biting beasts. The silver disc was originally rivetted inside this, on the inner side of the domed top, by four rivets in the outer edge of the disc which fastened the disc inside the top of K130. The central part of the silver disc protruded through the hole at the centre of K130 and was in its turn fastened to the lower end of K1055 via four holes. Since these holes appear to run from the silver disc, through the entire length of the cylinder K1055 and right inside K545 as well, we are assuming these must have contained something like fixing wires rather than rivets. These must have served to anchor the whole construction together.
Rivet holes around the lower edge of K130 show that this was also fastened to another object, but there is no evidence to suggest what this might have been.
The construction is so complicated that it is very difficult at the moment to be sure in precisely what order the parts were assembled.
Suggestions as to what the mystery object might be include:
(1) A fitting on a saddle.
(2) The decorative tip to a shield boss, presumably from a very elaborate shield. (In this case the object would have been rivetted to the top / front of a standard iron shield boss. A warrior held his shield by grasping a handgrip that ran across a circular hole cut in the centre of the shield. The domed boss covered the hole while leaving space for the warrior’s hand inside.)
(3) A decorative top to a stopper that fitted into a drinking horn. (Here the object would have been rivetted to a wooden stopper that fitted inside the mouth of the horn.)
(4) A decorative terminal to a parchment roll. (I think the suggestion is that there would be one at each end of the roll, fixed to whatever the roll was attached to.)
(5) A lid to something. But what? (Again this probably requires the object being rivetted to something like a wooden stopper.)
Dr David Symons, curator at BMAG, Research Advisory Panel.