The great Birger Nerman used to say that the best archaeological finds are made in museum stores. Here’s an example.
I just got home from two days at the County Museum in Linköping, where I’ve pursued my studies of late 1st Millennium central places. Helped by Marie Ohlsén and my other friendly colleagues there, I’ve checked out their collections of archaeological metalwork and their excavation report archives. Today they fed me semla (a big wheat bun with whipped cream and marzipan) not once, but twice — that’s how friendly they are. (Many thanks for having me, guys!)
Above are pictures of one of the catches I made. It’s a Vendel Period disc brooch or part of a disc-on-bow brooch, measuring 47-50 mm in diameter. It’s got cast Style II:C relief decoration along the top surface’s periphery, a silvered or tinned inlay socket at its centre, and lovely interlace relief on the sides. Much of it is gilded. The decorative motif is a leaping-dog frieze of six ravenous beasts, each consisting only of a head and a long neck. I’d suggest a date in the mid-to-late 7th century, considerably later than the Style I sword pommel model recently discussed here. A seax sword with a preserved and gorgeously overdecorated scabbard in Style II:C was found last summer at Vilhelmsberg near Norrköping in an otherwise unfurnished grave.
Vendel Period animal art is rare in Östergötland and tends to be very finely executed when you do come across it. The only contextual information I’ve got for this piece is that it’s been lent indefinitely to the museum by a man in Fredrikstorp in Flistad parish. This place is on the bank of River Svartån, a highway back in the day, only kilometres from confirmed Vendel Period aristocratic manor sites at Ledberg and Sätuna. Seems a likely place for something like this to turn up.