A spectacular gem-studded Anglo-Saxon gold brooch used to portray a person’s high social status has been found in a young woman’s grave during excavation works in Switzerland.
The 7th-century richly decorated disc was discovered in one of 15 ancient graves being excavated by archaeologists in the city of Basel, Switzerland, this month (November).
The brooch’s base metal has been covered in gold and decorated with gold wire while 17 studs of blue glass and garnet once decorated the surface.
Researchers from the Archaeological Soil Research found the item in a 20-year-old female’s grave where it was reportedly placed to depict her high social status.
The brooches – also known as disc fibulae – were used in the earlier part of the Middle Ages around Europe and are considered the most common style of Anglo-Saxon brooches.
Similar clips that measured more than five centimetres (two inches) in diameter were usually part of women’s attire, while smaller pieces were worn by men.
The Cantone of Basel said in a statement obtained by Newsflash: “The fibula consists of a base plate made of non-ferrous metal. It’s covered in gold.
“It was decorated with filigree overlays of gold wire and inlays of blue glass and light green garnet.
“The gemstones were glued in the background.”
Archaeologist Guido Lassau from the Cantone of Basel said: “This is an extraordinary piece!”
He also added that the young woman, whose noble family owned property in today’s area of Kleinbasel, was buried with over 160 pearls and numerous Roman coins.
But, according to the archaeologist, they were only able to preserve skeletal remains from her neck to the knees due to construction works that damaged her wooden coffin in the 20th century.
The Cantone of Basel added: “Around her waist the woman wore a belt with an iron buckle and a silver-inlaid tongue.
“A hanger was attached to the belt with numerous pierced Roman coins, metal objects and a comb made of bone.
“The rich finds are an indication of the high social status of the deceased.”
Aside from the initial find, the archaeologists came across a girl’s grave that contained a gold-inlaid belt buckle and 380 pearls.
Another grave that reportedly belonged to a young boy contained large silver inlaid belt fittings, as well as scissors and a comb.
A third grave revealed the gruesome find of the skeleton of a man whose upper jaw and teeth had been sliced off by a violent sword blow.
The Cantone of Basel said: “This healed injury gives an insight into the medical knowledge of the time and shows that such serious injuries disfigured people for life, but did not necessarily have to end fatally.”
Due to the most recent findings, the archaeologists believe that the area was more densely populated than previously thought.