This is a very rare Saxon gold jewelled scabbard button, dating to the 6th century A.D. It is an impressive piece of early Saxon jewellery, set with a large flat topped garnet gemstone. The garnet is held in a rubbed over bezel, decorated with beaded wirework. Similar flat topped garnet can be found on the Anglo-Saxon gold pectoral cross, found in the Staffordshire hoard (see here).
The back of the jewel retains two piercings, to enable mounting to another object? or to replace the gold wire loop, associated with a scabbard button (see here, here and here). It appears the jewel had been repaired in antiquity, with the gold loop replaced with bronze (presumably for added strength).
The size and shape would fit with other known scabbard buttons, though a much earlier example (with less intricate garnets). It is of the same type of high status object found at Sutton Hoo with a royal burial of a king, other examples in the Staffordshire hoard also suggest association with the royal or elite class. How such 'buttons' were worn or used remains a mystery, though connection with swords and sword furniture is the current academic theory. Since during this period most personal jewellery was worn by ladies, whilst men fitted out swords and harness to display their wealth. Small objects such as this button are perfect to be given as gifts by a king, to award loyalty and prowess in battle.
OBJECT: Scabbard Button
CULTURE: Saxon Germanic Migration.
DATE: c. 6th - 7th century A.D.
MATERIAL: Gold & Garnet
SIZE: 18.13mm x 13.66mm x 8.41mm
WEIGHT: 4.82 grams
PROVENANCE: Ex. K. Hofer collection. Graz, Austria.
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