Merovingian buckle

French (Paris Basin)
Early medieval
late 6th–early 7th century


7.7 x 5.4 cm (3 1/16 x 2 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Tin on leaded latten (82.2% copper, 5.7% tin, 7.9% lead, 4.2% zinc)

Not On View





Plate, loop, and tongue attached with circular hinges: fragment of loop attached with one remaining hinge visible on the back; a shield-shaped base plate for the tongue with one hinge on the reverse; and a shield-shaped plate with small triangles on either side at the top. Cast, chased minimally, and tinned. Three cast bosses of equal size were riveted originally to the plate; three tangs pierced with holes for attachment to the belt are arranged on the reverse about 5 mm. above the holes for the bosses. Decoration on the two plates is cast. On the larger plate concentric bands of ornament comprising (from the outside in) debased honeycomb, then undulating line, step, and again debased honeycomb patterns surround a human face surmounted by a cross. With a step pattern below and a ray pattern above, the face has large round eyes, a triangular nose, an undulating line on the forehead, and a semicircular mouth. The inverted arc at the top of the shield comprises two bands: debased honeycomb and undulating line. In the latter band are two asymmetrically arranged pinholes. The undulating line pattern surrounds a central cross on the plaque at the base of the tongue.


Private collection, France. Until 1952, Dr Gertrude Thiry, Frankfurt; 1952, sold by Thiry to the MFA for $180. (Accession Date: January 10, 1952)

Credit Line

John Wheelock Elliot and John Morse Elliot Fund