Anglo-Saxon brooches, known as dalc or spennel, were mainly worn by women to fasten their dresses and cloaks. Cruciform brooches such as this one would have been worn singly. Cruciform brooches come in a range of styles, ranging from more ornate to completely unadorned. This type of brooch was worn between the fifth and seventh centuries, and has mainly been found in Anglian areas, such as East Anglia and the Midlands. Brooches could carry symbolic meanings, as well as being a visual marker of status and wealth.
The decoration at the foot of the fibula was originally meant to depict the head of a horse. This particular example is highly stylised, with the foot lappets constricting the horse’s nose and snout. The large round protrusions offer some resemblance still to eyes. Originally the head plate would have had two additional knobs at each side, however these are now missing. Such brooches were typically made of bronze. Some were gilded with gold and few examples exist of types made in silver.
To discover more on Roman and Celtic brooches, please see our relevant blog post: Roman and Celtic Fibulae