What do we know?
Many of the pieces in the Staffordshire Hoard are decorated using filigree, a technique which creates patterns by soldering lengths of twisted wire to a base plate. This sea-horse mount is one of the most remarkable pieces in the hoard decorated using this technique. The filigree work on it is astonishingly fine –a grain of rice is longer than three of the spirals which make up the decoration.
The top terminal is shaped into a horse’s head, with facial features distinguishable by soldered bead style filigree outlining an eye and snout.
The body then curves to form a sharp outward point, and then again to an end terminal, which looks to have broken off.
Connected to the left of this is an extended piece of fashioned gold that may have been or part of an attachment.
The body vertically divides into four columns that match its length, and within each is a continuous pattern of raised thin double coils in a filigree design.
The reverse side has no decoration and is plain except for the impression of the eye and snout
There is some discussion as to whether this mount really represents a seahorse or not. Some experts argue that the Anglo-Saxons tended not to portray animals particularly realistically and that it is better to regard this mount a showing a stylised horse’s head. Others feel that the shape is so reminiscent of the species of seahorse that lives off the coast of Britain that the maker must really have intended to picture a seahorse.
BMAG Accession number: 2010.0138K1497
PMAG Accession number: 2010.LH.10.K1497
What might it have been used for?
The exact use for the stylised seahorse is not yet known, but it must have decorated some larger object.