Le fibbie negli anni

 

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catalogo dell'evoluzione delle fibbie nella storia

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this information was first published in treasure hunting magazine as a series of articles running from january december 1986 i also subsequently self-published a small run of 100 booklets at the time i could find no single source for identifying my buckle finds and many metal detectives were similarly disadvantaged i decided therefore to research the subject myself and correlate all the diverse information that was now beginning to become available in archaeological papers and in the metal detecting press much of the information was gleaned from the university libraries of nottingham and leicester both of which have extensive collections of archaeological journals and from my own collection of books many useful references will be found in the article end notes along with the names of people who were particularly kind and helpful to me please bear in mind that this information is now 16 years old and much is likely to have been published since then i have resisted making any major changes to the original although i have tidied up the text somewhat the information contained here was to the best of my knowledge accurate at the time and so i must let it stand and hope that it still serves a useful purpose for those interested in the subject i am aware that the article is not as easily read in this form as in a book so please feel free to print out the drawings and/or text for easier reference my only stipulation is that it should be free and not sold in any form chris marshall october 2002 the oxford dictionary defines the buckle as a metal rim with hinged spiked tongue for securing a strap or ribbon etc and the name is derived from the latin buccula cheek-strap or visor here we have a clue to the possible origin of the buckle as a piece of cavalry or military equipment amongst the romans and it is true that there is no evidence of the use of buckles in england before the roman invasion it is likely therefore that the buckle was introduced by the roman army and subsequently copied and produced by the native bronzesmiths see fig.1 no 31 the history of the buckle is allied closely to the development of costume and the loose and flowing garments of the civilian roman at this time did not require the use of buckles this is clearly demonstrated when comparing the number of brooches and dress pins found on civil sites with the number of buckles the roman soldier certainly did use buckles on his swordbelt baldrick and also for strapping together his laminated plate armour and this is attested by the numbers that are found on fortified sites roman villas have produced a few examples of military type buckles particularly of the 4th5th century ad and this has led some people to conjecture that these sites may have been defended

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at some stage against saxon raiding parties by far the greatest number of these buckles however particularly in the earlier period has been found in roman military contexts whenever a strap or belt was employed the buckle was by far the best way of providing a secure attachment and a ready means of adjustment no doubt at an early stage the buckle would also have been adapted for use on military horse harness a particular type has not been recognised although there are several buckles illustrated that could have served the purpose e.g fig.1 no s 14-18 distinctive features of roman buckles 1 separate hinge-pin passing through the drilled ends of the buckle-loop and joining all the component pieces fig.1 no s 3 4 7-13 35 2 separate hinge-pin passing through cast rings on the buckle-loop and joining all the component pieces fig.1 no s 20-33 3 buckle-loops d and sub d shape many of this type have involuted terminals fig.1 no s 14-25 4 buckle-loops rectangular or sub-rectangular with decorative knobs on corners of leading edge fig.1 no s 2 27-29 5 tongues plain or with incised decoration the barred tongue a feature of military buckles appears early and late fig.1 no s 28 35 6 some armour buckles have a double hinge plate fig.1 no 10 7 buckle -plates either cast integral with hinge-rings fig.1 no 31 or sheet metal hooked over hingepin fig.1 no s 34 35 8 buckle-plates plain fig.1 no 35 inlaid enamel fig.1 no s 31 33 niello fig.1 no 32 or repousse fig.1 no 34 examples from dated contexts first century ad fig.1 no s 7-10 13 30 32 late-first/early second century ad fig.1 no 27 early-fourth century ad fig.1 no 2 fourth century fig.1 no 34

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all the buckles described in this section have as a feature of their design a representation of an animal a decorative style known as zoomorphic they have all been found in england on roman military and civil sites and also in anglo-saxon graves as with all the buckles in this series they have been found by a variety of methods including the use of metal detectors several of these buckle types have also been found in other parts of the roman empire and yet others appear to be of native manufacture only these zoomorphic buckles were first classified by hawkes and dunning1 in a pioneering article soldiers and settlers in britain fourth to fifth century the article also included an important catalogue of finds that had been made up until 1961 and in which the typology of these buckles was first laid out the conclusions of this paper were that some of this metalwork was of a continental military type which was worn by germans in the pay of the roman army and brought over from northern gaul by count theodosius in the time of valentinian i 364-375ad some of this metalwork was then copied with some variation in style and produced by native craftsmen over the last twenty-five years these theories have often been challenged and occasionally amended and indeed there is some reason to doubt the english origin of some of the type i buckles as they have now been found in some numbers on the continent also since the paper was written many more examples have been found in england from a variety of sites and one proposed theory is that these buckles formed part of the belt-set worn as a badge of office by civil as well as military officials of the type i buckles from anglo-saxon graves all have been worn by women and if they were the wives of officials these women may have worn similar belt-sets as a mark of their husband s rank unlike the romans the girdle or belt was a normal feature of germanic dress the original article by hawkes and dunning was therefore invaluable for the typology for drawing attention to some previously neglected late-roman metalwork and for stimulating more research into the subject the distribution of this metalwork is important for determining the events of a crucial period in our history and i would therefore urge anyone who has found such a piece to record it at a museum i would however like to suggest here that there is another sub-type not accounted for in the typology laid down by hawkes and dunning i have seen two examples2 with the double hinge-bar that have confronted dolphin heads on the loop and not across the hinge-bar as normal in type iic compare fig.2 no s 23 24 with fig.2 no 25 if this is accepted then this new type should become type iic with hawkes and dunning type iic reverting to a new category type iid the typology then continues as before with type iii the animal heads facing across the hinge-bar.

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notes 1.medieval archaeology 1961 my thanks to mrs hawkes for allowing me to base my drawings on those in her typology 2 gordon bailey in treasure hunting june 1982  kevin leahy in a prospect of lincolnshire 1985 typology figures in bold are finds from anglo-saxon graves the rest are from roman sites type ia buckle with d shaped loop formed of confronted dolphins with pellet between open jaws and straight hinge-bar cast in one piece with the loop fig.2 no s 2 3 4 5 6 9 10 11 decoration by punched dots stamped ornament or transverse grooving buckle-plates are of sheet bronze doubled over the hinge-bar and riveted decoration by stamped ornament and engraved geometric design fig.2 no s 1 6 7 11 12 fig.2 no 12 is a variant with a separate hinge-pin type ib similar buckle-loop to type ia but developed into outward facing horse heads in some the dolphins are still distinguishable but the horse heads are the dominant feature fig.2 no s 13 14 15 buckle plates same as above type iia buckles of separate loop tongue and plate joined by a separate hinge-pin fig.2 no s 16-20 the loop is similar to type ia but the terminals instead of forming the hinge-bar for the tongue and plate are turned inwards involuted the loop and tongue have rings which interlock with those on the plate and a pin through the middle then hinges the whole the tongue is often barred rather like a fleur-de-lis and interlocks with the involuted terminals of the buckle-loop the buckle-plate is cast and is usually of open-work design as no s 17-19 with punched ring-and-dot ornament type iib similar to type iia but the loop and plate are cast in one piece fig.2 no s 21 22 type iic another variation of type iia but with two hinge-bars cast in one piece with the loop one for the tongue and the lower one for the attachment of a strap or buckle-plate fig.2 no s 23-24 there are two conjoined animal heads either side of the hinge-bars type iiia in this category the buckle-loop terminates in open-jawed animal heads confronted across the hinge-bar fig.2 no s 26-27 the buckle-loops are plain or decorated with chip-carving and incised or stamped designs the buckle-plates are cast or cut from sheet metal folded double over the hinge-bar and are semi-circular or square in shape type iiib as type iiia but the buckle-loop and plate are cast in one piece fig.2 no s 28-30 type iva similar buckle-loop to type iiia/b but set inside a one or two-piece rectangular plate with chip-carved ornament fig2 no s 31-32 type ivb similar buckle-loop to type iiia/b but set inside an open-work frame fig.2 no 33

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much of the evidence for metalwork in this period is derived from the excavation of burial sites because the pagan saxons when not practicing cremation buried their dead in full dress and with all the equipment required for the afterlife habitation sites of this period have not yet for the most part been discovered or extensively explored and in those that have there has been a shortage of metalwork present metal detectives of course can help to fill in some of these gaps in our knowledge by finding artefacts from previously unknown sites that have subsequently been ploughed out the buckle was an important dress accessory of the anglo-saxons and the numbers that have been found buried with their owners proves this the quality of metalwork during this period was of an extremely high order attested by some of the magnificent examples that have been found either made in precious metal or heavily gilded and inlaid with garnets niello and other decorative techniques the most famous buckle found to date in this country is undoubtedly the superbly crafted gold buckle from the sutton hoo ship burial dated to 625ad and possibly belonging to king raedwald of east anglia it is not completely beyond the bounds of possibility that a metal detective might find such a buckle witness the roman gold buckle from the thetford hoard i personally know of one instance where a silver buckle was found in association with a sceatta which is likely to be from the site of a burial however as this is a series to aid in the identification of buckle finds i have deliberately concentrated on the better known and thus more commonly found examples during the anglo-saxon period the belt or girdle was in common use no doubt for those for whom metalwork was not available the solution would be a simple tie or knot but enough buckles have survived to suggest that at least for those that could afford the luxury the buckle was in general use the metals employed in their manufacture were gold silver copper-alloys and iron with the techniques of gilding silvering and inlaying with silver wire also being used the buckle loops are basically variations on the oval or d shape with the occasional square or rectangular example encountered fig.3 no s 12 20 34 some of the loops are decorated and/or inlaid with silver wire fig.3 no s 3 11 21 22 transverse grooving on the loop often grouped in sets of three are indicative of a saxon date fig.3 no s 21 26-29 the tongues are very often plain and completely functional but there is a class that has a very distinctive violin shape known as shield-on-tongue fig.3 no s 5 7 8 12 variations on this decorative type of tongue are illustrated here fig.3 no s 3 4 6 9-11 21 a personal observation which can be used as a general rule of thumb to aid identification of buckles of this period is that

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some tongues curve over the leading edge of the loop and protrude beyond it some of these tongues are fixed and only the buckle-loop is moveable there are probably a greater variety of buckle-plates in this period than in any other they generally consist of the sandwich type common in all periods in which the plate is folded over the hinge-bar of the loop and riveted either side of the strap or are of the type that is cast in one piece with the loop and riveted to the strap examples of this latter type are illustrated fig.3 no s1 13 28-29 36 the one-piece cast buckles are often decorated with open-work in the casting fig.3 no s 28-29 36 the shapes of the plates are numerous the triangular plate very often decorated with large dome-headed rivets has been likened to a horse s head fig.3 no s 1-4 there are several other shapes peculiar to this period including the heart and semi-circle fig.3 no s 23-24 and sub-triangular fig.3 no s 9 15-19 25 note the shape of the plates on fig.3 no s 37 and 38 these are very similar to the terminals on later zoomorphic strap-ends that are generally of the 9th and later centuries decoration of the buckle and plate reaches a high point in the early and middle-saxon period the more common varieties here are fairly straightforward although fig.3 no s 3 11 21-22 are inlaid the ubiquitous decoration known commonly as ring-dot is often used fig.3 no s 28-29 42 44 but this is of little use for dating purposes as it appears on artefacts from many periods interestingly fig.3 no 4 is the only buckle-plate i know of that depicts a figure wearing a buckle another distinctive feature on some of these buckle-plates is the rivets in particular the examples shown in fig.3 no s 5 and 6 are unusual and are usually described as shoe-shaped they have also been found in association with the buckles in fig.3 no s 7 and 11 both of which are from the same cemetery the tang of these rivets is pierced to secure them on the inner face of the belt with a fine bar or wire other unusual rivets are the large dome-headed type featured on fig.3 no s 3 and 4 which in the jewelled versions are often decorated with cells of garnets or lapis lazuli a mineralised limestone the colour of azure the last example for discussion is fig.3 no 40 the reverse of which is fig.3 no 41 the shape of the loop and plate are characteristic of the seventh century but the plate is unusual in being engraved both sides and having applied relief ornamentation consisting of a cast central midrib and twisted border both of which have zoomorphic terminals even more unusual however is the means by which the five separate pieces are interlocked and held together by the ingenious use of only two separate rivets the fish on the reverse is the separate plate by which the rivets are secured it has been suggested that the fish in this instance is a symbol of christianity and this may be so as conversion of the pagan saxons was gathering pace throughout the seventh century perhaps the owner of this buckle was not yet ready to proclaim his new found religion publicly and therefore its symbol was relegated to the reverse of the buckle where it would still nevertheless afford protection to the wearer that concludes the section on buckles of the sixth and seventh centuries at this stage though it may be as well to remember that with the coming of christianity and its influence on the burial practices of the time the evidence from grave goods is lost to us some of these types may therefore still have been in use for some time afterwards.

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the evidence for buckles of this period from the 9th-12th century is diverse and consists of examples from hoards excavations chance finds and increasingly by the use of metal detectors the buckles in the accompanying diagrams have been arranged in a typological sequence which it is hoped will be a standard by which future finds will be accurately identified and dated they have been arranged under three main type headings type i non-zoomorphic with four sub-types type ii zoomorphic decorated with animal features with three sub-types and type iii zoomorphic with four sub-types the typology is specific to this section and any reference made therefore should be in the form of saxon type i etc catalogue all copper-alloy unless otherwise stated all numbers relate to figure 4 type ia buckles with undecorated loops no s 1-3 buckles as plain as these are difficult to date in any period but these at least can be approximately dated by association with other artefacts number 1 is from the famous trewhiddle hoard found in 1774 and deposited on the coin evidence to c872-875ad it was the only artefact in the hoard not to be made of silver numbers 2 and 3 come from the site of whitby abbey1 which was founded in 657ad and destroyed by the danes in 867ad type ib buckles with decorated loops no s 4-8 number 4 is from york2 and is described as anglo-danish it has a chased pattern on the loop and traces of a white-metal coating numbers 5 and 6 are again from whitby with a possible date range of 657-867ad number 5 is lightly engraved with a triangular pattern whilst number 6 has a roughly incised pattern on the loop number 7 is from the cuerdale hoard which is dated before 903ad and it has a heavy loop decorated with birds number 8 was found by the author on a site which has produced other metalwork of the 9th-11th centuries it is decorated with ring-dot ornament on the loop type ic buckles with moulded decoration on the loop no s 9-12 the published evidence for this type comes from hume3 and is further expanded by bu lock4 who argues that the type maybe originated from earlier zoomorphic styles see fig.2 no s 13-15 a word of caution here a similar type is also evident in the 13th century although by then the mouldings on the loop are much lighter in form a date range of 9th-11th century is tentatively suggested.

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type id buckles made of bone no s 13-16 bone and ivory carving was a highly skilled art in this period number 16 with its intricate interlace design attests to that skill it has a bronze tongue and therefore could have been found by a metal detector number 13 is from excavations at goltho lincs.5 and from the traces of rust still adhering to it may have had an iron tongue numbers 14 and 15 are from york.6 number 14 is decorated with a triquetra knot type iia three animal heads no s 21-25 this is the first of the zoomorphic types which is characterised by three decorative animal heads as no s 21 and 22 or two heads biting the bar and a devolved decorative knop on the loop as no s 2325 number 21 was found at old sarum in 1817 and dated stylistically to the 9th-11th century number 22 alan7 also has three heads and comes from an archaeologically dated context of 12001250ad number 25 is dated as late as the 14thc fingerlin8 by comparison to a buckle from the mass graves of the battle of visby 1361ad there are however much closer parallels from sources nearer to home a stray find from beckhampton no 24 is of the same type and is dated stylistically to the 12th century number 23 is a reconstruction of a broken example from goltho lincs a site which has produced other late-saxon to early-medieval metalwork this type therefore has its roots in the late-saxon period with a possible continuation into the early-medieval type iib two animal heads biting bar no s 26-36 examples of this group are the most numerous that have been recorded numbers 26-27 and 29-30 are again from hume and date 9th-11th century number 28 was found with a skeleton on royston heath9 and dated by its trewhiddle style to the 9th century number 31 excavated on the dmv site at wharram percy and a more decorated example from lyveden are dated stylistically to the 11th century number 32 from whitby abbey is a bone example with cresting around the loop number 33 is poorly cast in an openwork style reminiscent of the strap-ends of the 10th-11th century number 34 is another poorly cast specimen with two animals and a blundered triquetra knot as no 14 at the head of the loop and this dates to the 11th century numbers 35 and 36 from the thetford excavations11 have highly stylised zoomorphic decoration type iic two confronted animal heads on loop no 37 only one example of this type has been recorded and it was found in the river witham lincs it now resides in the alnwick castle collection where it is dated to the 12th century the buckle-plate is unusual in having a box-like frame to which is attached a winged harpy note i have seen other examples of the type since this article was written type iiia single head to front with loop and plate cast in one piece no s 38-39 number 38 wilson12 has two rivet holes in a stepped panel for attachment the tongue is of sheet bronze and is retained in an oval hole in the casting number 39 from chichester is of a similar type but without the stepped panel type iiib single head to front with separate buckle-plate no s 40-41 number 40 is again from hume number 41 is an evolved example which was found with 13th century pottery near eastbourne and it may therefore be a survival of the type however it was found with a braid still intact between the buckle-plates of a type that was common around 1000ad some later medieval types may be related to this group type iiic single head to front of double-loop no 42 the animal head on this example is very similar to no 39 but this buckle from northampton13 has a double loop which is most unusual on such an early buckle.

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type iiid single animal forming loop with head biting bar no 43 the example illustrated was found by the author on a ploughed-out lincolnshire dmv it is cast in a very stylised zoomorphic form and has a bronze core with a heavy white-metal coating the body forms the loop with tail to the left and head biting bar to the right references 1 archaeologia 89 1943 2 archaeological journal 116 1959 3 ancient meols reverend hume 1863 4 transactions historical society of lancashire 112 bu lock 1960 5 society for medieval archaeology monograph 6 6 archaeologia 97 1959 7 medieval and post-medieval finds from exeter alan 1984 8 gurtel des hohen und spaten mittelalters ilse fingerlin 9 victoria county history cambridgeshire 1 10 society for medieval archaeology monograph 8 11 east anglian archaeology 22 1984 12 catalogue of anglo-saxon ornamental metalwork 700-1100 in the british museum wilson 1964

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metal detectors over the last few years have been responsible for locating very many buckles of the medieval period although in common use at this time they had no great intrinsic value and therefore over the course of time they must have been melted down for scrap discarded or simply lost for the most part nobody bothered to save them and they thus became rare objects now that we have the means of relocating them again comes the problem of identification in particular the dating of medieval artefacts is still no easy task despite our knowledge of written records manuscripts brasses and even bequests in wills of buckles in precious metals so much attention in the past had been focused on the earlier annals of our history particularly the roman period that we had in some instances more knowledge of roman artefacts than their medieval counterparts i use the past tense as since the publication of the london museum medieval catalogue in 1940 that imbalance has been redressed considerably this publication still remains the artefact bible for the period but due to the much larger corpus of material now available for study it is long overdue for some revision metal detectives have of course contributed to this increase of material in recent years and some of those finds are reflected in these articles there must be many more types yet to be recorded and it is hoped that people will respond and have them recorded for the benefit of all as in my previous article i have attempted to place the buckles together in types with the addition here that each type now has a dating guide i have also tried where possible to introduce a certain amount of chronology between the groups and to the buckles within each group however i must stress that these dates can only be approximate as much work is still to be done if we are to attempt to use buckles as a dating guide in the manner of coins the typology from here onwards is continuous through to the post-medieval period catalogue all copper-alloy unless otherwise stated all numbers relate to fig 5 type ia enamelled loop no s 1-3 date range 1200-1250ad there is no proof that this type was ever produced in this country as they are of the limoge school of enamelling some examples have been found here though and this is not surprising considering the interplay between france and england at this time types are single-loop no 2 and loop with two separate bars one for the tongue and another for the buckle-plate no s 1 and 3

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type ib decorative single loop no s 4-16 date range 1250-1350ad a large group of buckles of small module many of which are reasonably common on medieval sites number 12 has a thin sheet-bronze revolving cylinder on the loop a distinctive feature on examples 15 and 16 are the two little projections on each side of the loop type ic crested single loop no s 17-22 date range 1250-1350ad these are unusual buckles that are not so commonly found no 22 being the least rare of the type and is probably slightly later in the date range number 17 is not far removed from the zoomorphic style of the late-saxon period they are usually of a larger module than the preceding group type id single loop and plate in one piece no s 23-29 date range 1250-1400ad generally of small to medium size these buckles were riveted directly onto a belt or strap they may have served amongst other uses as spur buckles number 23 is early and may have originated in the later saxon period number 26 has an openwork plate with a trefoil terminal a feature that it shares with number 27 type ie circular single loop no s 30-33 date range 1275-1425ad surprisingly these are not all that common numbers 30 and 31 are of iron with hooked terminals and are therefore spur buckles number 33 from my own collection is an interesting example these have been mistaken for buckle brooches in the past but the finding of this specimen with a buckleplate still attached to the central bar has disproved that theory the tongue is unusual in having a flat circular section the centre of which is filled with a white substance that may have been paste or the setting for a paste jewel type if semi-circular or d shaped single loop no s 34-48 date range 1250-1500ad a large group with sizes varying from small to large which would probably benefit from further analysis into sub-types in the future to allow for closer dating number 34 is the largest and earliest 13thc of this group and is of iron with engraving on the loop number 35 has a small buckle-plate with two rivets forming the centre of an engraved floral design both buckle and plate are gilded number 36 was found in a context of 1330-1360ad it is also gilded number 39 has a similar loop with the addition of a revolving cylinder number 37 is of an elongated shape and is from a context of 1300-1350ad number 38 is difficult to date as the type had a long life but this example came from a context of 1275-1400ad numbers 40 and 41 have broader loops with rectangular plates and two rivets and no 41 has a design cast in the loop number 42 comes from a 14thc context numbers 44 and 45 have decorative loops that have been engraved or punched and the style is believed to be 14thc example 46 is also of the 14thc and has characteristic spurs on the ends of the bar numbers 47 and 48 have similar loops but no 47 has a revolving cylinder similar to no 39 they are believed to date to the 1450-1500ad period type ig pointed single loop and forked spacer-plate no s 49-51 date range 1350-1400ad a common type of small to medium module in which the forked extensions of the loop form the base to which the separate top and bottom buckle-plates are soldered the forks and backs of the plates are roughly filed to key the solder traces of which may often be seen on examples that are parted number 51 shows the basic structure with 49 and 50 showing the plates attached the rocker or zigzag engraving on 49 is a common decorative tool on buckle-plates of this period type ih pointed single loop without forked spacer no s 52-58 date range 1300-1450ad many of these are contemporary with the preceding group number 52 is larger than most and has a notch on the loop to locate the tongue as in examples 53 and 54 number 55 has the normal plate in which the strap is inserted and secured by rivets and both this and the loop are tinned with a whitemetal coating numbers 56 and 57 are the standard type but number 58 is broader with a decorative

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