Anglo-Saxon 'Woden Head & Birds' Cruciform Brooch 019911

Anglo-Saxon 'Woden Head & Birds' Cruciform Brooch 019911
Anglo-Saxon 'Woden Head & Birds' Cruciform Brooch
Copper-alloy, 75 grams, 151 mm. 5th-6th century AD. A large example of an Anglian cruciform brooch with a rectangular headplate, the lateral wings indicated by slightly thinner panels to either side, decorated with a border of punched annulets. From the wings and the upper edge emerge large T-shaped elliptical panels connected by a narrow bar which develops into a human face with large, circular eyes and a pelta-shaped beard; from beside the pelta emerge two three-band curved panels which extend to flank the outer ends where they become bird-of-prey heads, their beaks placed beside the head. The lower edge of the headplate develops into a short carinated bow with facetted ends, the apex of which is surmounted by a vestigial mounting peg. Below the bow the footplate comprises a plain trapezoidal panel flanked by two lappets in the form of bird-heads similar to those on the headplate. A D-section collar of transverse bands is placed below this, which develops into a finial comprising a face with bulbous eyes and pelta-shaped beard above a plain panel flanked by bird-heads, above a further T-shaped finial. The pin-lug and catchplate are in place on the reverse. The symbolism of the male head flanked by birds with their beaks placed at the ears is found on several classes of early Anglo-Saxon metalwork and it is likely that the design commemorates the war-god Woden (Norse Oðinn, Odin) who relied on the information brought to him by his avian messengers (Norse Huginn and Muninn). The 'Woden-head' design appears four times on this brooch in prominent positions. Four rivet-holes are placed beside the lower end of the bow where the brooch was repaired in antiquity. Reference: MacGregor, A. & Bolick, E. A Summary Catalogue of the Anglo-Saxon Collections (Non-Ferrous Metals), BAR British Series 230, 1993, p.107 items 12.32. Very fine condition, some restoration. Provenance: from an old English collection.
 
This item was accompanied by an illustrated Certificate of Authenticity.

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