History of King’s Lynn in 100 Objects: No57

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This week’s feature is about an exciting loan from the British Museum; the Pentney brooches. For a short time only these rare Anglo-Saxon silver brooches are on display at Lynn Museum.

The brooches were found in 1977 when a grave was being dug in Pentney churchyard, ten miles outside of King’s Lynn. Six brooches were found. The two pictured here are currently on display at Lynn Museum. At the time neither their age nor value were recognised and they were left in the church parish chest. A few years later the brooches were brought into Norwich Castle Museum where they were identified as dating from the Anglo-Saxon period and of great rarity and archaeological importance. During the Anglo-Saxon period intricate brooches like these were worn to fasten clothing. They may have been worn by either men or women.

All the Pentney brooches have cruciform designs, although the cross is more obvious in some than others. The largest of the six brooches (left) dates from about 800-830AD. The pin bar design with two animal heads is similar to another brooch found in Suffolk, suggesting that it was made in the region. The smallest and earliest of the brooches (right) dates from about 780-800AD. The silver openwork front is attached to a gilded bronze back plate, and shows some signs of having been worn. Its foliage decoration is thought to represent the Tree of Life.

Visit this free display at Lynn Museum until 25th February.