Twisting and Turning in the Sutton Hoo Purse Cover

by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

In the class session in History of Art at Mount Angel Seminary that I dedicate to the Early Middle Ages, we discuss the Sutton Hoo Purse Cover.  The Purse Cover is just one of the many items found in the Sutton Hoo burial site in East Anglia in England.

The Purse Cover is now located in the British Museum.  It is decorated with crushed garnets and gold cloisonné, which is made by pouring enamel in bent wire strips.

Some of these objects, including the Purse Cover and the Great Buckle, also give use examples in metalwork of interlace, a twisting decoration arranged in strips around a straight axis.

Helmet from the Sutton Hoo Burial - CC BY-SA 4.0

Reconstruction of the Sutton Hoo Helmet - CC BY-SA 2.0

The Great Buckle - CC BY-SA 3.0

Shoulder Clasps - CC BY-SA 3.0

Purse Cover - CC BY-SA 3.0

Belt - CC BY-SA 3.0

Shield Fittings Reconstruction - CC BY-SA 2.0