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Disc brooch - The Milton Brooch

The Milton Brooch

  • Object:

    Disc brooch

  • Place of origin:

    Kent (probably, made)

  • Date:

    600-700 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, bronze, gold, garnet, shell

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 8, The William and Eileen Ruddock Gallery, case 13

The Milton Jewel is one of the finest examples of Anglo-Saxon brooches of the period, with a sophisiticated design carried out in a combination of materials.The use of cloisons inlaid with garnet, filigree knot work decoration on gold sheet and shell bossess are typical of this type. The brooch was found in 1832 in a cemetery at Milton, west of Dorchester-on-Thames. There is another similar brooch in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, which was found nearby.

Physical description

A disc brooch consisting of a silver back plate, the reverse with pin and hook fittings. The front decorated with applied bronze cloisons (cells) inlaid with garnet, the centre a shell boss inlaid with garnet. Also with four semicircular applied gold sheets with filigree knot decoration alternating with shell bosses inlaid with garnet.

Place of Origin

Kent (probably, made)


600-700 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silver, bronze, gold, garnet, shell


Diameter: 7.6 cm, Depth: 1.8 cm, Weight: 0.1 kg

Object history note

This brooch was found in Milton North Field, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, probably in 1832. It was kept at the British Museum (Reg. No.52 2.13 1) before its transfer to the V&A. There is a very similar brooch from the same cemetery in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Historical significance: Although found in Oxfordshire, it is highly likely that this brooch was made in Kent, as are other brooches of this type. The materials used to make this brooch testify to the international trade during the Anglo-Saxons period: the garnets probably came from Sri Lanka, and scientific research on other similar brooches has shown that the white shell is from Mediterranean species.

Historical context note

A disc brooch such as this, with the pin fittings on the reverse, is used to hold textiles together, either to close a cloak or a veil around the neck. The garnet bands radiating outwards from the centre of the brooch is typical of the decoration found on disc brooches.

Descriptive line

A disc brooch decorated with garnet, gold and shell. Kent, seventh century A.D.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Avent, Richard, Anglo-Saxon garnet inlaid disc and composite brooches. BAR British Series 11, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1975) corpus no. 183.
Geake, Helen, The use of grave-goods in conversion-period England, c.600-c.850. BAR British series 261 (Oxford 1997).
Hamerow, Helena, with Anni Byard, Esther Cameron, Andreas Düring, Paula Levick, Nicholas Marquez-Grant and Andrew Shortland. 'A High-status seventh-century female burial from West Hanney, Oxfordshire'. The Antiquaries Journal, vol. 95, 2015. pp. 91-118
Helena Hamerow. The Circulation of Garnets in the North Sea Zone, ca. 400-700. In Gemstones in the First Millenium AD: Mines, Trade, Workshops and Symbolism. Alexandra Hilgner, Susanne Greiff, Dieter Quast, eds.. RGZM-Tagungen Band 30. Mainz, 2017. Proceedings of conference at Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz, 20-22 October, 2015. pp. 71-84.
Heeren, Stijn and Annemarieke Willemsen. Fibula's. Vonsten, vormen & mode. Leiden: Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, 2017. ISBN 9789071201325.

Labels and date

Gold and silver with enamel and garnet inlay, on a backing of copper and compositions.
Justish (Kent); 7th century
From Mitton, near Abingdon []


Silver; Bronze; Gold; Garnet; Shell




Jewellery; Metalwork


Metalwork Collection

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