Anglo-Saxon bird brooch from Suffolk

Recent excavations by Cotswold Archaeology at one of our sites in Suffolk included the recovery of this stunning and quite rare form of Anglo-Saxon silver brooch, dating between the 9th and 11th centuries AD. When it was first recovered, the beauty of the brooch was dulled and masked by dirt.

Anglo-Saxon bird brooch before conservation
Anglo-Saxon bird brooch before conservation

Following a short spell undergoing careful conservation with Pieta at Drakon Heritage the brooch now gleams, and all of its glorious detail has been revealed.

Anglo-Saxon bird brooch after conservation
Anglo-Saxon bird brooch after conservation

The cast bird brooch has a fan-shaped tail with an interlaced knot motif, and is not readily paralleled in other known bird brooches of this date. It has a slightly puffed-out chest, with a broad, collared neck and a down-turned beak. Its eye is a simple ring-and-dot motif that is more typical of this brooch type. The wing, spiralling at the base, is narrow and rod-like. The bird’s legs are represented by simple stumps.

This brooch is categorised as a Weetch Type 30C of the later Anglo-Saxon period; it has neither the crested head of Scandinavian style bird brooches (Type 30A) nor the projecting cross of the Carolingian style (Type 30B).

We do not know how the brooch entered the archaeological record on a predominantly Roman site, as it was found in the topsoil. If it was lost, as is most likely, one can only imagine the dismay of its owner at losing such a fine piece of jewellery.

Ruth Beveridge

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