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Thread: Germanic cruciform brooch displays (and a drinking horn)

  1. #1
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    Germanic cruciform brooch displays (and a drinking horn)

    This is admittedly a niche subject, but I was intrigued on visiting the British Museum a couple of weeks ago after a year or two away to see that they've redisplayed their Germanic bow and cruciform brooches with the heads reversed, as they would usually have been worn. Traditionally, all the museum displays I remember seeing in Britain and on the continent have displayed the brooches as they're depicted in archaeological drawings, with the head at the top and the foot beneath. I must admit it made me view the collection in a fresh light and it was only by turning my pictures upside down that I was later able to get a full take on the styling. Does anyone know whether this is a trend and other collections are showing their brooches in the same way? The BM display is of course world class but from memory they previously had more of the less remarkable (non elite) copper alloy migration period fibulae on display, which were more informative of the general culture than the current artefacts. As an aside, I was struck on this visit by the new Lombard/Langobard display, which features a beautiful blue glass drinking horn; the perfect fusion of Latin sophistication and Germanic drinking culture. I'm attaching an image that I took of a Scandinavian Migration Period fibula in the new BM orientation showing head below, but I'm also adding the horn for the fellow lovers of a drop or two out there.

    IMG_20190601_160714-1209x1612.jpg

    IMG_20190601_160835-1209x1612.jpg

    Edited for clarity.
    Last edited by JonikW; 06-13-2019 at 12:29 AM.
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    Thanks for sharing! That Longobard drinking horn is quite interesting.

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    The cruciform Brooch was always believed worn that way, as many were found positioned in situ as such in pagan burials. The design allowed for the raised 'Bow' to take the folds of the cloth, and the large plate to hide the fixing. The Cruciform is associated with Anglian type culture, and burials, rather than Saxon.

    The drinking glass's are known as Claw beakers, and some were believed imported from the Rhine area's, especially to Kent, they were mostly made from blue or green coloured glass, and one is ( green coloured glass )or was last time I visited, on show in the British Museum, it was found not far from where I live, known as the Castle Eden Vase.
    Last edited by Paul333; 06-13-2019 at 07:47 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul333 View Post
    The cruciform Brooch was always believed worn that way, as many were found positioned in situ as such in pagan burials. The design allowed for the raised 'Bow' to take the folds of the cloth, and the large plate to hide the fixing. The Cruciform is associated with Anglian type culture, and burials, rather than Saxon.

    The drinking glass's are known as Claw beakers, and some were believed imported from the Rhine area's, especially to Kent, they were mostly made from blue or green coloured glass, and one is ( green coloured glass )or was last time I visited, on show in the British Museum, was found not far from where I live, known as the Castle Eden Vase.
    Yes, they were usually - but not always - worn that way, at least according to positioning in burials.
    The claw beaker is probably the best known and relatively common Migration Period drinking glass style but this horn bears little relation. The museum blurb says it was found at Sutri in Italy and shows the Langobards adapting Mediterranean coloured glass techniques to suit their own tastes. I remember seeing a similar red example, which I think was in Copenhagen.
    Living DNA Cautious mode:
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    mtDNA: traces to Glamorgan, Wales
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonikW View Post
    Yes, they were usually - but not always - worn that way, at least according to positioning in burials.
    The claw beaker is probably the best known and relatively common Migration Period drinking glass style but this horn bears little relation. The museum blurb says it was found at Sutri in Italy and shows the Langobards adapting Mediterranean coloured glass techniques to suit their own tastes. I remember seeing a similar red example, which I think was in Copenhagen.
    These brooch's and the larger plate and Square headed broochs would be impractical to wear upside down, as they would then, easily fall open, or become loose with the slightest knock, and gravity would take over. Put on the correct way they are basically secure. The reason they are believed to of been worn the other way is, in my own opinion due to the fact they have mostly always been illustrated better that way.

    Regarding the Blue Glass use. The most famous example of Anglo-Saxon 'blue glass' drinking vessels was found with the Prittlewell Prince, known as the 'King of Bling' near Southend on Sea, Essex, in 2003, and dated to late 6th or early 7th, century.

    The grave was believed to be that of King Seabert, but carbon dating gave a date of AD 575-605, regarding the building of the Tomb/Grave, suggesting it is possibly the grave of his Brother Seaxa.
    Last edited by Paul333; 06-13-2019 at 08:21 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul333 View Post
    These brooch's and the larger plate and Square headed broochs would be impractical to wear upside down, as they would then, easily fall open, or become loose with the slightest knock, and gravity would take over. Put on the correct way they are basically secure. The reason they are believed to of been worn the other way is, in my own opinion due to the fact they have mostly always been illustrated better that way.

    Regarding the Blue Glass use. The most famous example of Anglo-Saxon 'blue glass' drinking vessels was found with the Prittlewell Prince, known as the 'King of Bling' near Southend on Sea, Essex, in 2003, and dated to late 6th or early 7th, century.

    The grave is believed to be that of King Seabert.
    I agree about the illustration. The brooches are basically glorified safety pins with a catch plate that ensures they couldn't come undone without being unhooked. To give two examples where the heads weren't worn at the bottom, Holywell Row Sf6 G79 is a good example of a woman wearing three with the head upwards, one down and one sideways. Dover Buckland II has many that were worn sideways in Kentish Dress Style IV.

    Edited for correction.
    Last edited by JonikW; 06-13-2019 at 08:28 PM.
    Living DNA Cautious mode:
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    Mother's Y: traces to Llanvair Discoed, Wales

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