Headdress-wearing bust of religious Roman and medieval tag with link to John the Baptist revealed in Salisbury
A Roman bust of Maenad from the Wessex Gallery of Archaeology in Salisbury© Wessex Gallery of Archaeology
In the Deverill valley, near the west Wiltshire town of Warminster, a husband and wife detecting team have spent nearly 30 years unearthing 2,000 years of history.
An early medieval hooked tag shows an eagle stretching its wings and talons © Wessex Gallery of Archaeology
One of their star turns is a superbly-modelled, cast Roman bust of a Meanad – a female follower of the god Bacchus, adorned with a plaited vine and ivy wreath headdress. An early medieval hooked tag, meanwhile, bears the imprint of an eagle stretching its wings and talons, perhaps made in a copper alloy symbol for John the Baptist.
“The lenders for this case have been working closely with the Portable Antiquities Scheme and the museum for a long time,” says Richard Henry, the Finds Liaison Officer for the county, looking ahead to the display of a special case at Salisbury Museum highlighting some of the pair’s discoveries.
“We are really happy to have the chance to display their finds.
“There is also a Ewart Park Phase sword, which is particularly interesting as the hilt was broken during the late Bronze Age.
“Roughly 10 centimeters of the blade was hammered flat to create a makeshift hilt so that the sword could continue being used.”
A glorious gilded early medieval cloisonné brooch is emblazoned with a trifoliate leaf motif. A fragment of a Bronze Age spear and a late Roman bowl are the last two donated pieces. And among four further finds, a pointed oval seal matrix from the 14th century was donated by a finder who struck lucky while gardening in Laverstock, coming across the depiction of the Virgin and Child in front of an elaborate altar.
On display at the museum from November 18 2014 – February 28 2015.
A gilded early medieval cloisonné brooch with a trifoliate leaf motif© Wessex Gallery of Archaeology
Curators describe the brooch as glorious© Wessex Gallery of Archaeology
The maenad is a female follower of the god Bacchus with a plaited vine and ivy wreath head-dress© Wessex Gallery of Archaeology
A pointed oval seal matrix comes from the sub deanery of Salisbury© Wessex Gallery of Archaeology