Part of this treasure passed in some mysterious way to France, and is now in the Cluny Museum at Paris. The rest is in the Royal Armoury at Madrid. Paris can boast possession of nine of the crowns; Madrid, of two, together with a fragment of a third - this latter of a balustrade or basket pattern. Five of the nine crowns preserved at Paris are fashioned of simple hoops of gold. The most important of the five, the crown of Recces-winth, who ruled in Spain from 650 to 672 a.d., consists of two hinged semicircles of hollow gold, about a finger's-breadth across the interspace. It measures just over eight inches in diameter and four inches in depth. Both the upper and the lower rims are decorated to the depth of nearly half an inch with a design of four-pointed floral or semi-floral figures within minute circles. Amador de los Rios has recognized this same design in the frieze of certain buildings at Toledo, and in the edges of mosaic discovered at Italica and Lugo, as well as in the Balearic Islands. The interstices of this design upon the crown are filled with a kind of red enamel or glaze, the true nature of which has not been definitely ascertained. Riano calls it "a delicate ornamentation of cloisonne work, which encloses a substance resembling red glass." The centre of the crown is filled with three rows of large stones, principally pearls and sapphires. There are also several onyxes, a stone which in those days was held in great esteem. The spaces between the rows of stones are ornamented with a somewhat rudimentary design of palm branches, the leaves of which appear to have been filled or outlined with the kind of red enamel I have spoken of.
1 There is also in the Archaeological Museum at Madrid a small collection of what has been described as Visigothic jewellery, consisting of a handsome phalera, necklaces, finger-rings, and earrings. Most of these objects were found at Elche in 1776. The Museo Espanol de Antiguedades published a full description by Florencio Janer. Their interest is by no means as great as that of the treasure of Guarrazar, nor is the date of their production definitely ascertained. From various details I suspect that many of them may be purely Roman.
This crown is suspended by four gold chains containing each of them five leaf-shaped links, percees a jour. The chains unite at a gold rosette in the form of a double lily, terminated by a stoutish capital of rock-crystal. This in its turn is capped by another piece of crystal holding the final stem of gold which served as a hook for hanging up the crown. Suspended from the gold rosette by a long chain is a handsome cross, undoubtedly of more elaborate workmanship, studded with union pearls and monster sapphires. Amador believed this ornament to be a brooch. If this were so it is, of course, improperly appended here. Twenty-four gold chains hang from the lower border of the crown, concluding in pyriform sapphires of large size. Each sapphire is surmounted by a small, square frame of gold containing coloured glass, and above this, in each of three-and-twenty of the chains, is one of the golden letters forming the inscription, + reccesvinthvs rex offeret. Besides this crown there are at Paris - (1) A similar though slighter crown, the body of which is studded with fifty-four magnificent stones. A cross, now kept apart in the same collection, is thought by Spanish experts to have once been pendent from the crown. If so, the latter was perhaps presented to the sanctuary by one Sonnica, probably a Visigothic magnate, and not a woman, as the termination of the name induced some foreign antiquaries to suppose. The cross is thus inscribed: -
1 The last word is commonly believed to be the name of a place - Sorbaces. There has been much discussion as to its meaning.
(2) Three crowns of plain design consisting of hoops of gold with primitive repousse decoration, and, in the case of one, with precious stones.
(3) Four crowns, each with a pendent cross. The pattern is a basket-work or set of balustrades of thin gold hollow plates (not, as Riano stated, massive) with precious stones about the intersections of the bars or meshes, and others hanging from the lower rim. Three of these crowns have three rows or tiers of what I call the balustrade; the other crown has four.
The custom of offering votive crowns to Christian temples was taken by the emperors of Constantinople from heathen peoples of the eastern world. In Spain this custom, introduced by Recared, outlived by many years the ruin of the Visigothic monarchy - survived, in fact, until the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Thus in 891 Alfonso the Third presented to the monastery of San Adrian and Santa Natalia four crowns of gold and three of silver, while just a hundred years afterwards Ordono the Second presented three silver crowns to the monastery of Samos. Other crowns were offered by the prelates and the secular nobility.
Returning to the crowns of Guarrazar, there has been great controversy as to whether these were worn upon the head. Some experts think they must have been so worn; and in this case the rings upon the rim, through which the chains are passed, would seem to have been added on the presentation of these objects to the sanctuary. Lasteyrie, on the other hand, considered that the crowns were merely votive and were never meant for personal use, arguing that the rings were fixed about the border from the very moment when the crowns were made;1 but Amador ingeniously replied to this by pointing out that in a few of the old Castilian coins - for instance, one of Sancho the Third - the crown, with ring's about its rim, is actually upon the monarch's head. It is possible, adds the same authority, that these were old votive crowns proceeding from some church, although he thinks it still more likely that they were fashioned with the rings attached to them. We should remember, too, the hinge which serves to open and close the body of these crowns. It is difficult to guess the purpose of this hinge, unless it were to fit the crown more comfortably on the head.