In my early years of detecting, and like most others who take up the hobby, I was totally inexperienced, a greenhorn. A seasoned detectorist friend at the time invited me on to one of his permissions and I found the artefact shown below, not knowing what it was.
For reasons I didn’t understand at the time he was seriously dischuffed; disgruntled, ill-humoured and not at all pleased. I was in the dark and didn’t understand why he was acting in that way. It turned out that he had searched that field many times and hadn’t found anything so significant. He didn’t take me out again. 🙁
What I had found was an Anglo-Saxon Style Trewhiddle Strap End. Why “Trewhiddle’ Style? In 1774 one of the most important finds of metalwork and coins of the Christian Saxon period, was discovered by miners looking for tin at Trewhiddle in Cornwall. Many of the artefacts were decorated with stylised animals, a feature of Anglo-Saxon art which has since become known as Trewhiddle style decoration.
A strap end is defined, in the very broadest terms, as an artefact used to stop fraying at the end of a strap or belt and to weight it down. As such, if complete, the object must show some clear signs of attachment features, such as rivets or rivet holes, which fastened it to the strap. Strap-ends acted as terminals.
These terminals often offered a focus for artistic embellishment, which, in accordance with contemporary tastes for zoomorphic decoration, were often fashioned into animal heads seen from above, though simple, curved forms were also used.
Dr Gabor Thomas of the Institute of Archaeology, University of London, submitted a 537 page thesis for his Doctor of Philosophy degree. That was in 2000. Everything you need to know about strap ends can be seen by clicking HERE. Pictures appear from page 488 onwards. Good luck.
When I found the strap end it was recorded soon afterwards on the UKDFD:
Copper-alloy strap-end with split terminal and two iron rivets still in situ. The zoomorphic terminal has a short snout the nostrils marked by an inlaid triangle and drilled eye sockets that may once have held glass insets. Above the eyes are two inlaid chevron lines and the rounded ears are divided by a raised piriform or wedge shape. The central panel has a classic Trewhiddle animal design of a single quadruped, the limbs interlaced and with backward-facing head, the whole inlaid. Between this panel and the rivets is another small panel containing a stylised palmette. This strap-end is Thomas Class A, Type 1: Trewhiddle style.
Rather than sitting in a dusty drawer in my home I made the decision to donate the strap end to a museum in Gloucestershire (where it now resides hidden away in one of their drawers, I suspect). I delivered the artefact personally to the curator, who made lots of nice noises and seemed grateful.
Then I sat back and awaited my tribute in the form of a certificate. Alas, it never arrived. I realise now that, in my eagerness to please, I had circumvented the system, and failed to read the small print.
Small Print … Finders and landowners may state that they do not wish to claim a reward at any stage in the treasure process, either before or after inquest, in order to be eligible to receive the certificate.
All I have now is the UKDFD record (in the same dusty drawer) reminding this old duffer of his find of the year! Come to think, I’ve never seen one of those certificates, although they must exist. Have you? I would love to add one to this blog post.
A Fine Example from the PAS Database
A page from the next Searcher magazine – available in shops from Friday 29 December