Buckles continue throughout this period to be used as a practical means of fastening belts and from the 1500's onwards are more commonly used than previously for fastening shoes. The double loop varieties take over from the single loop as the predominant type and by the 17thc this transition is almost complete. Some of the smaller double loops have buckle-plates attached but they are absent from most of the larger examples and this is a continuing trend from now on. The larger frame of the double loop buckle allows for more decorative scope but this does not appear to be greatly exploited until the later 17th and 18th century.
TYPE IK - square or rectangular single loop (no's 10-12)
Although of differing styles all three examples have a notch on the loop for locating the tongue. Number 10 is pewter. Number 12 has lightly incised decorative lines on the loop.
TYPE IP - moulded sides single loop (no's 13-18).
This is a new type, the distinguishing features of which are the rounded sides and splayed feet at the junction of the loop and bar. Number 17 is pewter. Number 18 is a continuation into the 17th century.
TYPE IIA - separate strap and tongue bars (no's 19-20).
Both these examples are iron and have rotating cylinders on the loop. They are generally of post-Medieval date and their size would suggest use on horse harness rather than for personal adornment. Excavated examples have come from Somerby, Lincs.2 (no.19), Lyveden,3 Sandal Castle,4 and my own collection (no.20).
TYPE IIB - central hinge-bar with asymmetric double loop (no's 21-28).
Both numbers 21 and 22 have hook attachments and are therefore spur buckles - in fact most of this group could have been used for that purpose. Numbers 24 and 25 are from the first half of the 16thc. Numbers 26-28 are late-16thc with a continuation into the 17thc. There is an obvious relationship in style between number 26 and double loop variety number 47.
TYPE IIIA - square or rectangular double loop (no's 29-34). Number 29 is a belt buckle with an additional small rectangular loop for attachment of a sword belt via a hooked fastener. Number 31 from Grenstein DMV5 has traces of a white-metal coating. Number 32 from a Lincolnshire DMV has rosettes on each corner and incised chevrons over the rest of the frame. Number 33 has incised lines on the loop and comes from Chelmsford6 in a context of 1550-1590. A similar example in Webb, previously cited, is dated late-16th to early-17thc. Number 34 which is of the same period more properly belongs in Type IIID.
TYPE IIIB - circular double loop.
I have been unable to find any examples of this type in dated contexts for the Tudor period. This is surprising, as the type is evident in the earlier and later periods. No doubt as more records are published this anomaly will be resolved.
TYPE IIIC - 'figure-of-eight' double loop (no's 35-64)
Double loop buckles begin to predominate over the single loop types in this period and the 'figure-of-eight' or 'spectacle' buckle is by far the most common form in both the 16th and 17th centuries. Chronology of this type is not yet fully determined particularly in the transition from Medieval to post-Medieval types but I have attempted to place these buckles into periods from their dated contexts or style.
15th - 16thc - numbers 35-36; 42; 48; 53; 55; 61. Number 48 is from a sword belt - see also Type IVE numbers 68 and 70.
Early-16thc - numbers 37; 39-40; 52; 54. A buckle similar to no.52 can be seen on a shoe of the period 1510-1520AD.7
Mid - 16thc - numbers 57; 60. Number 57 is from The Manor of the More8 where it is dated 1550-1575AD. Number 60 is from a shoulder belt or bandoleer.
Late - 16thc - numbers 41; 45; 50. Number 45 with rosettes on the loop is a common type. Webb dates one 1570-1600AD. Another from Chelmsford is dated 1550-1590AD.
16thc in general - numbers 38; 49; 51; 56; 58; 62-64. Number 38 has openwork hearts on the loop and much of its gilding remains intact. Number 49 is an armour buckle but the loop is of a very common form which must have been used for other purposes too.
Late-16th to early-17thc - numbers 43-44; 46-47; 59. Number 43 is a common form that continues in the 17thc. Various examples have been excavated on colonial American sites and these are obviously important for dating purposes. Number 44 has also been found in America during excavations in Jamestown, Virginia9 where the type must have been deposited after c1612AD. Examples are also known from excavations in England at Sandal Castle from a context of 1485-1600AD.
TYPE IIID - trapezium shape double loop (no's 65-67). Date range c1575-1650AD+
A new double loop type that extends into the 17thc with the more elaborate openwork spur buckles continuing until the later 17thc. Number 65 is a belt buckle of the late 16thc. Numbers 66-67 are spur buckles with hook attachments and these are also dated to the late 16thc.
TYPE IVE - 'figure-of-eight' strap-slides (no's 68-70).
These 'buckle-like' items are in fact belt-slides for adjusting the sword belt. The belt set would have included true buckles and one is illustrated here at number 48. Numbers 68 and 70 (with buckle 48) have similar designs of vine leaves cast in relief on a sunken ground. Webb illustrates three examples from a context of 1490-1540AD. One from Chelmsford is dated as late-16th to 17thc and one from my own collection was found on a market site that has produced no coins later than Elizabeth I. Number 69 is a similar belt-slide from a Lincolnshire DMV. For an almost complete sword-belt set of this type see the Chelmsford report previously cited where a date of 1550-1590 is given.
1. Buckles Identified - Historic Publications. John Webb, 1981
2. Excavations at Somerby, Lincs., 1957 - Lincolnshire History and Archaeology, 1969
3. Lyveden DMV - Journal Northampton Museum 9, 1971
4. Sandal Castle Excavations 1964-1973 - Wakefield Historical Publications, 1983
5. Grenstein DMV - East Anglian Archaeology Report 10
6. Moulsham Street, Chelmsford - Council for British Archaeology Research Report 54, 1985
7. A History of Shoe Fashions - Northampton Museums and Art Gallery, 1975
8. Excavations of the Manor of the More, Rickmansworth - Archaeological Journal 116, 1959
9. Archaeological Excavations at Jamestown, Virginia - J. Cotter, 1958