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A Study of Cross-Hatched Gold Foils in Anglo-Saxon Jewellery

A Study of Cross-Hatched Gold Foils in Anglo-Saxon Jewellery

By Richard Avent and David Leigh

Medieval Archaeology, Vol.21 (1977)

Introduction: In the last few years interest has focused increasingly on various aspects of the manufacture of migration period and early medieval jewellery. The gold content of this jewellery has been the subject of chemical analyses, the production and use of garnets has been reassessed, and casting techniques are being reviewed in the light of the workshop discoveries at Helga, Sweden. The present study is concerned with the wafer-thin pieces of cross-hatched gold foil used as backings for garnet and glass settings on jewellery of the 6th and 7th centuries. The foils give life and brilliance to the inlays by virtue of the glittering effect produced by their many-faceted surfaces; an effect which on jewellery would have been enhanced by the movement of the wearer.

It is a technique now replaced by the faceting of diamonds and other precious stones, and yet still employed, though to markedly different ends, in the rear reflectors of motor cars. The use of gold, although partly dictated by its technical properties” and its availability as foil! also adds a depth of colour to otherwise pale garnets and, indeed, its absence on certain pieces of jewellery only serves to emphasize this. The inlays are found in settings formed either by raised cells cast in one with the object, or as the cells of a more elaborate cloisonne mosaic.

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