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Our Anglo-Saxon treasure comes home to museum

PUBLISHED: 16:17 30 September 2009 | UPDATED: 15:52 16 August 2010

CURATOR: Marie-Louise Kerr with the ancient fastener.

CURATOR: Marie-Louise Kerr with the ancient fastener.

AN ANGLO-SAXON treasure discovered in the borough three years ago has returned to its home to be displayed in a museum.

AN ANGLO-SAXON treasure discovered in the borough three years ago has returned to its home to be displayed in a museum.

Half of an 8th century silver dress fastener, discovered in Farnborough in 2006, has been handed to Bromley Museum in Orpington after being declared a treasure by the British Museum.

Curator of the museum, Marie-Louise Kerr collected the artefact last Friday on the day that the largest UK haul of Anglo Saxon artefacts, found in Staffordshire, went on display at Birmingham Museum.

Of the find, Ms Kerr said: "It is highly decorated silver and gilt so it would have been worn from someone who came from a wealthy background, someone who had money to splash out on something like this. We can't say for definite if it would have been a man or a woman but it is more likely to be female because of its decorative nature.

"We have other Anglo Saxon artefacts at the museum including a skull and items from a grave found by a local archaeologist in Orpington so this latest artefact shows that Anglo Saxons were pretty widespread in the area, in Orpington and Farnborough, dotted around all over the place."

Clothing was very important to Anglo-Saxons and it would show gender, ethnicity and status in society. Fasteners that held clothes together could be very plain or highly decorated but this one was decorated with horses, birds and other animals.

Michael Chivington, from Dartford, discovered the treasure using a metal detector in a location in Farnborough, which is to remain secret to preserve any other archaeological finds.

The 66-year-old retired welder was paid £125, half of the value of the artefact, after he reported the find to the borough's coroner, as he was required to do under the Treasure Act 1996.

He said he was not tempted to keep it, adding: "I knew it was Saxon when I found it and I thought it could be treasure because it was silver so I took it to the treasure trove liaison officer to check it. It had stylised horse on it. "It came back with quite a weak signal but it was only buried about four inches in the ground.

"It's good to think it's going to be looked at by a lot of people in the museum. As long as people get to see it, that's fine by me."

The dress fastener will be on permanent display in the museum's Anglo-Saxon case in Bromley's Past Gallery.

The museum in The Priory, Orpington is open all year Mondays to Saturdays from 10am to 5pm with Sunday opening from April to October from 1 to 5pm.

Entry is free, for more information call 01689 873826 or email bromley.museum@bromley.gov.uk.

FACT FILE

BROMLEY museum has more than 20,000 artefacts on display.

POVEREST ROAD is the site of a Roman bath house and later Anglo-Saxon cemetery excavated in the 1960s and 1970s. The museum holds the remains of more than 80 individuals from the cemetery. The Roman bath house is preserved on site and can be visited with an appointment with the museum curator.

LOWER WARBANK, KESTON: The Roman villa in this village was occupied between the 1st and 4th centuries AD and fully excavated by Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit and Bromley and West Kent Archaeoligical Group between 1967 and 1990. The museum holds the remains of a person who lived at the villa.

CROFTON ROMAN VILLA: This was occupied between the 2nd and 4th centuries AD and the museum houses artefacts unearthed during

excavations dating back to 1927. The villa is now a tourist attraction and open to visitors every year between April and October. All the finds from a 1980s dig are stored at Bromley Museum.

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