Viking era silver strap tip found in Shropshire field is declared official ‘treasure’

A tiny silver gilt animal head dating back to AD900-AD1100, found in field in Shropshire, has been declared as treasure.

The Viking silver animal head that was found in a field near Bridgnorth
The Viking silver animal head that was found in a field near Bridgnorth

Metal detectorist, Andrew Bassett found the tip of a strap from what is thought to be from the Viking age, on farmland near Bridgnorth, in 2017, the latest of his finds in the area.

Mr Bassett had spent months researching the area’s history and says he believes it shows a community settlement had been on the land from the Iron Age period 35BC through to the English Civil War.

At the treasure inquest at Shrewsbury’s Shirehall yesterday, the coroner for Shropshire and Telford, Mr John Ellery, declared the strap tip to be treasure.

He said that the Shrewsbury Museum was interested in acquiring the object.

Andrew Bassett found the tip on farmland near Bridgnorth

A statement to the inquest from Mr Peter Reavill, the Finds Liaison Officer based at Ludlow Museum, said that the silver gilt fragment was an ornamental animal head that would have been used on the tip of a strap end.

The ornate carving was just under half an inch tall, he said, and similar to a Viking animal head found in Somerset.

Following the inquest Mr Bassett said the animal head was an extremely high status find. “Its an absolute privilege to research and discover such stunning finds which can then have their story told and displayed to the public, to be able to re-write history of the community where these objects have been discovered is an enormous privilege and I look forward to many more finds.”

He said that very close to the animal head, he had also found an Anglo Saxon strap end depicting a Saxon warrior.

“These two items and others that have been discovered nearby are helping to build a picture of the lost Roman-to-Medieval community that once thrived in this area,” he said.

Secret

The precise location of the finds is being kept secret.

Mr Bassett, has been a detectorist since the age of 10, and is a member of the National Council for Metal Detecting.

Among his finds on the farmland in the past was a Medieval pope’s seal.

Pope Innocent IV, whose papacy began in 1243, used the lead coin-like object to confer political and religious favours on supporters.

He has also found Iron Age brooches, Roman brooches and coinage and coins dating from the medieval period to the English Civil War.

“All have been discovered with the grateful assistance of local landowners and have amazed the local community with exactly what is buried under our feet,” he said.

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