Another medieval metal mount! by Kath Stonedog
Following on from the blog entry on 3 September 2009 I’ve managed to find another one, from Oakley in Buckinghamshire. Rather than the Weymouth leafmask however, this is the head of “a male bearded figure issuing from two sprigs of foliage” as the Treasure Annual Report for 2005-2006 puts it. You can view the Finds Document here (Item 508). It is silver gilt – hence the impressive golden colour! – and dated to the late C14 orC15.
If anyone can make it, this lovely wee thing, only 27mm * 27mm, is currently part of an exhibition Legends of the Wildwood at the Buckinghamshire County Museum in Aylesbury. You can view details of the Legends of the Wildwood Exhibition here. The exhibition closes on 9 May 2010 and Archaeology Curator Brett Thorn says that even when that display is ended, anyone who wishes to see it in person is more than welcome to make an appointment to visit the stores to do so.
One reason that these small pieces are important is that they give us possible examples of the Green Man being used outwith an ecclesiastical context. Admittedly they need not be secular but there is that possibility! In this they are akin to the beautiful knife handle found in excavations in Perth.
I wonder if it is complete as it is, or if the stem of the leaves show signs of breakage? The photo, which we include with permission from the Portable Antiquities scheme (further details at www.finds.org.uk ) seems to show that the top is silver gilt too, which would mean that the foliage didn’t originally extend further. Contemporary images of the Tree of Jesse usually have the trunk springing from a reclining figure’s loins or body rather than the head but…
Thanks go to Brett Thorn and the Buckinghamshire County Museum http://www.buckscc.gov.uk/ for help in assembling data for this entry. The Portable Antiquities scheme encourages people to register their finds and so make them available to others (like us!). Finds without context lose so much of their real value.