‘Precious’ find on farmland near Egton

Silver medieval brooch
Silver medieval brooch

Written by Jeannie Swales

This week’s exhibit is a recent acquisition by Scarborough Museums Trust - an elegant medieval silver brooch.

Medieval silver brooch

Medieval silver brooch

A circular frame is decorated with four evenly-spaced “knops” (a technical term for an ornamental knob) and four lozenges in the form of eight-petalled flowers. There are traces of gilding on the brooch.

The brooch is in very good condition, unusually retaining its pin. It would have been functional as well as decorative, holding the wearer’s clothes in place.

Dating from the 13th or 14th century, the brooch was found last year by a metal detectorist working on farmland near Egton. Because it’s composed of more than 10 per cent precious metal, the brooch qualifies as treasure under the Treasure Act 1996.

If you find something that you believe may be defined as treasure, you are legally obliged to report it to a coroner – either within 14 days of finding it, or within 14 days of realising that it might be treasure if it’s an old find. There’s excellent detailed information on the website of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (www.finds.org.uk), including advice for landowners.

The Treasure Act states that certain things are defined as treasure if found after September 24, 1997 (or in some cases, after January 1, 2003):

l Any metallic object, other than a coin, provided that at least 10 per cent by weight of metal is precious metal (that is, gold or silver) and that it is at least 300 years old when found. If the object is of prehistoric date it will be treasure provided any part of it is precious metal.

l Any group of two or more metallic objects of any composition of prehistoric date that come from the same find.

l Two or more coins from the same find provided they are at least 300 years old when found and contain 10 per cent gold or silver (if the coins contain less than 10 per cent of gold or silver there must be at least ten of them). Only the following groups of coins will normally be regarded as coming from the same find: hoards that have been deliberately hidden; smaller groups of coins, such as the contents of purses, that may been dropped or lost; votive or ritual deposits.

l Any object, whatever it is made of, that is found in the same place as, or had previously been together with, another object that is treasure.

The brooch is part of the Scarborough Collections, the name given to all the museum objects that have been acquired by the borough over the years, now in the care of Scarborough Museums Trust.

For further information, please contact Collections Manager Jennifer Dunne on Jennifer.dunne@smtrust.uk.com or (01723) 384510.