Jewelled Gothic 'Snake-Headed' Crystal Looped Reliquary Buckle Set 020113

Jewelled Gothic 'Snake-Headed' Crystal Looped Reliquary Buckle Set 020113
Extremely Rare Jewelled Gothic 'Snake-Headed' Crystal Looped Reliquary Buckle Set
Silver-gilt, garnets, crystal, 50.99 grams, 74.78 mm. 5th century AD. A Gothic belt set with several very unusual features: the serpent-head tongue, crystal loop and fabricated plate. The loop is carved from rock crystal, a feature found on a very few such buckles in the 5th-6th centuries such as the British Museum’s example from Marne (France); it is slightly asymmetrical due to the carving process, and is provided with a couch for the tongue. The tongue is silver-gilt, hollow-cast and D-sectioned; its rear edge is a panel of transverse ribs, above which is a narrowing section worked to imitate the scales of a snake or fish; above the junction with the loop, the tongue becomes the head of a serpent, with snub-nosed end and inset cabochon garnet eyes. A buckle with animal-head tongue and garnet cloisonné was found near Kerch (Ukraine) and published in Menghin (2007, item I.17.6). Behind these elements is the plate formed as a thick (about 9mm) hollow reliquary box with a sturdy border and securing pin at each corner, the upper surface decorated with more scales and a grid of nine square garnet cloisons (of which two were lost in antiquity). The box-plate resembles in some respects the belt-reliquaries of early mediaeval Ireland. From its leading edge a tab passes over the loop and beneath the plate to be secured with a fifth pin on the rear edge of the plate. Reference: Smith, R.A. British Museum Guide to Anglo-Saxon Antiquities 1923, reprinted Ipswich, 1993 and Menghin, W. The Merovingian Period – Europe Without Borders, Berlin, 2007. Marzinzik, S. Early Anglo-Saxon Belt Buckles, BAR British Series 357, Oxford, 2003. Good very fine condition. Provenance: from an old English collection.
This item was accompanied by an illustrated Certificate of Authenticity.

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