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Thread: The King's Fibula of Wijnaldum - The Discovery of the Missing Link

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    The King's Fibula of Wijnaldum - The Discovery of the Missing Link

    Translated by yours truly:

    THE KING'S FIBULA OF WIJNALDUM

    The discovery of the missing link




    LEEUWARDEN – An exceptional discovery has shed new light on the king’s fibula of Wijnaldum, the 7th century star item from the archeological collection of the Frisian Museum. Amateur detector Rinze Cuperus of Bolsward found a missing part of the fibula in august. The fragment in question that Cuperus beeped up on an field in Wijnaldum turns out to be the key piece of the brooch. With this find the image on the head plate can finally be deciphered: the mask of the head god Odin. Starting Saturday, December 19, the star item wíth the newest discovery is open to the public.

    The found ‘missing link’ is a fragment of two by three centimeters and consists of sixteen golden spaces that are laden with almandine, a red gemstone. The fragment finally completes the image on the head plate of the fibula. The representation is that of the mask of head god Odin (in the Netherlands better known as Wodan) between two wolves or bears.


    Illustration of the head plate with the face of Odin

    The unusually rich decoration of gold and almandine in combination with the now discovered representation confirms the suspicions of the experts: the fibula of Wijnaldum is a crown jewel worn by the spouse of a Frisian leader or king.

    The fibula or brooch was used two thousand years ago to fasten a mantel. It was also an ornament and a status symbol. The first and largest part (the foot plate) of this star item was found in Wijnaldum in 1953. At the end of the 1980’s ten more, smaller fragments were found.

    From Saturday, December 19, to Sunday, February 1, 2010, the Frisian Museum presents ‘The King’s Fibula of Wijnaldum, the discovery of the missing link’. The history of the find and the iconography of this exceptional fibula will be discusssed.

    In a short documentary finder Rinze Cuperus of Bolsward, goldsmith Theo van Halsema, fibula expert Vibeke Sealtiël Olsen and Evert Kramer, curator of the archeology department of the Frisian Museum, will talk about the background of the ornament. The meaning and the importance of the missing link will also be explained.

    Source
    The representation as compared with that of two other important ornaments from the old Northsea culture. The right one is from the purse lid from the ship-burial of Sutton Hoo. Where the left one is from, I don't know.


    Source


    Source

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    Hmmm, reminds me of the Staffordshire hoard

    No doubt Anglo-Saxon culture extended across the channel.

    Call me dumb but I'm still a bit lost as to why they call it a mask and why it's supposedly Odin's mask?

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    The striking similarities in style have led archeologists to believe that some of the pieces in the ship-burial at Sutton Hoo were made by a pupil of the smith behind the fibula of Wijnaldum. Another possibility is that the smiths are one and the same. Left the fibula of Wijnaldum, right an item from the ship-burial at Sutton Hoo:


    Source

    But certain pieces in the Staffordshire hoard also point to a very close connection between the Anglo-Saxons and the Frisians. As pointed out elsewhere:



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    Looks like "standard" migration era workmanship. Several finds in Norway and Sweden resembles this as well.

    Buckle found in Marnardal, Agder, Norway.


    Åker, Hedmark, Norway


    Norway


    Sweden

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    In this article the link between the Staffordshire hoard and the fibula of Wijnaldum is discussed, as well as the general link between the Anglo-Saxons and the Frisians in the common Northsea culture.

    Again, translated by myself.

    English gold hoard tells a Frisian story as well

    Leeuwarden – The spectacular find of an Anglo-Saxon gold and silver hoard in the English Midlands has everything to do with a flourishing period in Frisian history. “A direct line runs between this hoard and Frisian artefacts.”

    By Erik Betten.

    A week or two ago already archeologist Johan Nicolay of the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen saw with his own eyes the unique collection of artefacts that was found in England. The incredible collection of 1500 Anglo-Saxon artefacts, weighing 7.5 kilos, mostly of gold, left a shattering impression on him.
    British experts claim that the find by the 55 year old detector amateur Terry Herbert might dramatically change how we see the early Middle Ages in England. We can say as much in fact for Frisian history in those years 675-725, says Nicolay.

    “What was found in England is from exactly the same period as the fibula of Wijnaldum.” As a result of the find of that brooch a large scale dig was done on the ‘kings mound’ in the nineties, maar it did not yield evidence that a Frisian king had ever ruled from there. Yet Nicolay is convinced that the fibula functioned in the same system as the golden artefacts that were recently found in England.

    “We can see that in both Fryslân as well as the Anglo-Saxon areas in England a lot of gold was placed underground in that time. That was done consciously, either during burial, or in sacrifice.” Since the hoard in England contains many male artefacts – sword pommels, parts of helmets and other war gear – Nicolay suspects we are dealing with spoils from a sizeable battle. “These spoils might have been buried ritually after the battle, but that is just a supposition.”

    Gifts from the king
    In the regional principalities of around the year 700 everything revolved around the personal relationship between the king and his retainers. They served him in battle, and were rewarded with golden artefacts. The higher the status, the fairer the gifts. The ornaments and weapons with gold filigree and the red gemstone almandine point to the highest rank, says Nicolay. “What is found in England confirms my theory on the stratification in Frisian society, given shape through such an exchange of gifts. In the English find too we recognise the different levels. There are also pieces with gold filigree only, which points to a somewhat lower rank. That in turn resembles the fibula that was found in Hegebeintum.” That the fibulae were meant for women does not detract from the similarities.

    According to Nicolay a direct line runs between the Frisian finds from that time and the English hoard. “But it is still too early to trace whether it includes pieces by the same maker. Such art historical studies require more time.”

    Source

    The fibula of Hegebeintum that Nicolay is referring to


    The terp of Hegebeintum

    (A terp is a mound once created to provide safe ground during high tide. They are typical of Frisian lands.)

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    And a third article that I translated. According to the article over at Wikipedia a coin stamp with the text 'AUDWULF FRISIA' (or 'AUDULF FRISIA' in the Dutch version of the article) was found in Wijnaldum as well. This needs to be confirmed with better sources. If true, perhaps the fibula of Wijnaldum belonged to the wife of King Audulf.

    Audulf, a supressed Frisian king

    Aldgils and Redbad are two well known Frisian kings. They lived around 700 and especially Redbad is known for his brave struggle against the Franks. But there is at least one more Frisian king known by name: Audulf. In the records he always remained in the background. Nonetheless his name appears on a few coins from the beginning of the seventh century. Klaas Faber from Noordeinde (Gelderland) is writing a thesis about it.


    Klaas Faber

    LEEUWARDEN – It is really a bit of a strange affair regarding that king Audulf. It is almost as if some experts do not believe in his existence. Of those sceptical experts it is mostly archeologists in Frisia itself.

    An example of someone who would have nothing of it was Pieter C.J.A. Boeles. That Boeles seemingly wanted to well-nigh write Audulf out of Frisian history may have had something to do with his aversion to too much (in his eyes nationalistic) association with a Frisian kingdom. For that jurist such thoughts seemed threatening to the modern Dutch unitary state.

    Yet according to Faber there is no reason to doubt the existence of a Frisian king named Audulf. After all, there are five, possibly six, coins known bearing the name Audulf. Two of them were found near Escharen below Grave (North-Brabant). Two Audulf coins are located in the British Museum in London. There was even a third Audulf coin in England. It was described in an article at the beginning of this century. But it has disappeared since then. Finally there is a sixth Audulf coin, that was found in the vicinity of Arnhem.


    One of the coins

    The text on the coins is intriguing. It says ‘AVDVLFVS FRISIA’, with on the flip side usually: ‘VICTVRIA AVDVLFO’. The international coin experts Grierson and Blackburn point out that the coins unequivocally show that an independent Frisian kingdom existed in the sixth century.

    Incidentally, already in 1866 the Dutch numismatist P.O. van de Chijs thought the coins referred to such a Frisian kingdom. He wrote: “It is not at all impossible that the Frisians, after the fall of the Western Empire, made themselves a coin of their own.”

    The find of Escharen dates from around 630. Escharen lies right next to the Maas. This river was the most important sailing route to the north in those years. Otherwise it was the Rhine, but after 580 that river fell out of use as a trading route for a considerable time, as the Longobards occupied the Alpine passes.

    There are also Frankish examples of coins with names of kings, and which strongly remind us of the Audulfus text: ‘THEODEBERTVS VICTOR’, ‘CLOTHARIVS REX’ and ‘VICTVRIA CLOTHARII’. From the fact that after 628 such coins did not occur anymore and that the oldest one dates from at least 534 Van der Chijs deducts that Audulfus was king of Frisia somewhere between 534 and 628. It appears as if this king Audulf had a coin minted on the occasion of some victory. According to Jan Zijlstra of Leeuwarden, who delved into early medieval Frisian history, the name Audulf could very well fit in a tradition of Frisian kings. There might have existed a royal dynasty of Wulfings in Frisia.

    For this theory Zijlstra refers to two kinds of data. Firstly, wulf-names associated with Frisia are found in the Old English manuscript Beowulf. Furthermore, a fair amount of wulf-names are found among important Frisian figures from the time between 700 and 1000. We find for instance the name Gerulf (Ger-wulf: Spear-wolf) both in Beowulf as well as among the oldest Dutch counts – preceding all those Dirks, Florises and Willems – who claimed descent from the Frisian kings.

    Source
    According to the article over at Wikipedia the name Aud(w)ulf contains "the words adel and wolf". The second element is correct, but clearly the first is not. It is rather *auda- 'luck, fortune'. The Anglo-Saxon form of this Proto-Germanic word was éad, which is also found in names like Éadmund (> Edmund), Éadwine (> Edwin), Éadgár (> Edgar) and Éadweard (> Edward).
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    Great finds! Notice the two wolves and two ravens

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    An actual coin (as opposed to a coin stamp) bearing Audulf's name was found in Wieuwerd, Fryslân, in a hoard containing a couple of rings, a few dozen pendants and a golden fibula:



    Compare also this exquisite buckle found in Rijnsburg, South-Holland, the Netherlands, in a Merovingian grave field (notice the almandine gemstone to the right):



    But of course they pale in comparison with this breath-taking buckle found in the ship-burial of Sutton Hoo:

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    This has got to be my favorite thread on Skadi so far. I truly appreciate the time and energy each poster has put into the translations, quoting and pictures. Makes my day - was having a very tough day and came back to this thread several times.

    Thank you to each and every one of you.
    Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.
    ~~Immanuel Kant~~

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    Those things make me want to buy a metal detector, plenty of terps around here Imagine the shock and awe when you find one of those... Then again, i'm probably not the first with this idea

    Actually, they also give me inspiration of making a similar design in 3D. I'll probably give that a try

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