Monday, 10 March 2014

Iceni crescentic terret

Bronze crescentic terret fragment with red enamel and
engraved decoration, uniface, found in Norfolk.  3.4 cm X  1.6 cm
1st cent AD (click to enlarge)
Although just a fragment, this enamelled terret (rein ring) found in Norfolk (no more detailed findspot recorded) has enough decoration remaining to reconstruct most or all of the overall decoration. It is possible that there is another small design element extending from the decoration on the left and, as these are all symmetrical, at the extreme right as well.

The red enamel is in better condition than most and the surface of the bronze has a very smooth, shiny green patina. That the object is uniface is very unusual, but I was able to find another fragment in the Portable Antiquities Scheme database that was also uniface (WMID-935475).  The cataloguer allows for the possibility that it is some other sort of object but is most probably a crescentic terret fragment.

Most of these crescentic terrets are from Suffolk, but they have a wide distribution -- the most remote example coming from Fayum, Egypt! A number of them are illustrated in Jope, plates 292-294 with the closest being Plate 292g and Plate 293h from Colchester, Essex. which is of simpler design. and where the engraved decoration just follows the bronze motifs rather than elaborating on them as on my example. Similar, too, is the example from Owmby Lincolnshire which appears to have no added engraved decoration.The engraved lobes which surround the red enamel circle with its offset circle at the centre of the composition and the cusp with its trailing line all modify the basic shapes of bronze. Several other crescentic terrets also have such engraved modification to the basic shapes.

Reconstruction of the remaining visible design
(click to enlarge)
By copying the image, flipping it horizontally and pasting this selection over the image, most or all of the design is reconstructed. Most of the terrets would have had a small element at the extreme right and left but some of them show a simpler design so it is possible that no element is actually missing in this reconstruction.

A crescentic terret from the Westhall, Suffolk hoard (1855)
© Trustees of the British Museum
The British Museum example to the right shows what the entire terret might have looked like, although there are variations to the terminals of the crescent and the attachment bar.

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