Hinged clasps

Hinged clasps

Date first half of 7th century

Movement Early Medieval

Medium Gold with garnets and enamels

Length 5″

Provenance Sutton Hoo ship burial

Housed at The British Museum


Serpents intermingle prominently on these clasps found at the Sutton Hoo ship burial. At each end, bores crouch back-to-back, their backs perfectly aligning with the outer curves of the clasps. Some scholars believe these clasps would have held a cloak in place at the shoulders, and are in the Roman style of doing so—perhaps indicating evidence of the King’s belief of himself as a Roman authority in the outer provinces; others see the checker-like crosses here as an indication of his conversion to Christianity.