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The Cheddar Brooch before conservation
Photograph: Museum of Somerset
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The Cheddar Brooch after conservation
Photograph: Museum of Somerset

The Cheddar brooch, a rare early medieval artifact dating from AD800 to 900, has been restored and is now on display at a museum near Cheddar, Somerset. Originally found by a metal detectorist in 2020, the brooch was dull and corroded due to centuries spent buried in a Somerset field. The large silver and copper alloy disc brooch features interlaced animal and plant designs in bright silver and black niello, including dragon-like wyverns. The intricate details revealed during restoration, such as fine scratches on the reverse, suggest careful craftsmanship. The curator notes a tiny contemporary mend on the beaded border, indicating the brooch was cherished and worn for an extended period. Believed to have belonged to an important and wealthy individual with access to a skilled goldsmith, the brooch is associated with a pivotal time in English history when King Alfred the Great secured Wessex, marking a turning point.