Visigoth Buckle


Thumbnail of Visigoth Buckle (1924.02.0068)

Detailed Images

Basic Information

Artifact Identification Visigoth Buckle   (1924.02.0068)
  1. Personal Artifacts
  2. :
  3. Clothing
  4. :
  5. Clothing Accessories
Artist/Maker None
Geographic Location
Period/Date Visigoth, 400 – 800
Culture Visigoth, Spanish

Physical Analysis

Dimension 1 (Length) 11.5 cm
Dimension 2 (Width) 6 cm
Dimension 3 (Depth) 2 cm
Weight 161 g
Measuring Remarks None
Materials Metal--Bronze, Stone
Manufacturing Processes Forging, Inlaying
Munsell Color Information dark grayish green (5 bg 3/2) -ns

Research Remarks

Published Description

Jamie Walker Artifact of the Month 1924.02.0068 139-Visigoth Buckle Much of the historical evidence we gain for the Early Middle Ages of Europe, or Dark Ages, comes from graves. One such example is this Visigothic buckle. This elaborately decorated artifact was discovered in the Frankish cemetery of Butte de Gargans and dates to the 6th century CE. Butte de Gargans served as a burial ground for the Merovingian people. They were a tribe inhabiting modern day France from the end of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the reign of the Carolingian monarchs in the 8th century, Charlemagne’s time. The Merovingians lived in a time of unrest and large scale migration, so it is difficult to find archaeological evidence of their social and cultural activity in temples or cities. The majority of knowledge about the Merovingian way of life derives from the grave goods found in cemeteries like Butte de Gargans. This buckle is one of many different types of artifacts found in graves. Like other buckles of this type, it would have been found in the grave of a male warrior. Other objects would have included swords, other arms, goblets, and adornments. This buckle, however, is of interest because of its Visigoth origins. This buckle has inlaid stones, and it would have been used to secure a leather belt worn over a person’s tunic. Unlike more simplistic bronze buckles worn in battle, this buckle would have been worn on less warlike occasions. The Visigoth tribe was contemporary to the Merovingians and was one of the “barbarian” tribes that lived in Europe in the last years of the Roman Empire. The Visigoths were the western branch of the larger Goth tribe. At the time the buckle was made, the tribe inhabited Spain. How did this buckle end up in the grave of a Merovingian warrior? Clearly, its inclusion in the grave implies that there was some sort of contact amongst these peoples. Despite the era’s labeling as a “Dark Age”, these tribes dealt with one another, and they had the ability to create elaborate goods like the buckle. Although they were often considered “barbarians”, the Goths had developed the art of creating decorative jewelry and accessories. Location: Spain, This object is Visigothic (the Visigoths inhabited Spain), but was found in the Frankish cemetery of Butte De Gargans. 400-800 CE Research done on artifact by Judy Spencer and Barbara Oehlschlaeger-Garvey (see Heritage newsletter Fall 1990) See 1992 corresp. w/ Françoise Ballet. This buckle comes from the Baudon Collection and is an artifact of the Visigoth tribe, one of several Germanic tribes inhabiting Europe during the ending years of the Roman Empire and early Middle Ages. From Heritage Newsletter: “Museum’s extensive Merovingian after the legendary collection acquired in 1924…artifacts are from the graves of the Merovingians, a people who resided in France from the 5th to the 8th century AD” “an era of unrest and large scale migrations once commonly referred to as a ‘dark age’…remnants of these Merovingians are not found in temple complexes and city centers, but in cemeteries along the path of their movements”. Doctoral diss: Barbara Oehlschlaeger-Garvey – 1924.02 Merovingian buckles were ‘gilded, inlaid with precious stones and jewels and may even have been painted’. Object Files – A Soldier and His Arms “On less warlike occasions a beautifully worked buckle with inlaid semi-precious stones and glass would be used” as opposed to less elaborate bronze buckles for warfare “Loose fitting wool garments were jistened at the waist by belts with ornamented bronze buckles. Buckles ranged from simple clasps to intricately worked plaques with inlaid gems and glass paste such as this. Although found in a Frankish grave, this buckle was made by the Western Goths of Spain”

Description N/A
Comparanda N/A

Heritage newsletter, Fall 1990, p. 6. Early draft on file. Photo of image found on WHM post card, 0000P.0126.

Artifact History

Archaeological Data N/A
Credit Line/Dedication Baudon Collection
Reproduction no
Reproduction Information N/A

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