Chalcedony Box

The Box of the Agates or the Chalcedonies is the most modern reliquary of the four fundamental pieces of pre-Romanesque goldsmithing, along with the Cross of the Angels , the Cross of Victory and the chest of San Genadio. This relic was donated to the cathedral by King Fruela II and his wife, Nunilo, in 910. As a sign of devotion to the Cathedral of Oviedo .


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  • 1 Location
  • 2 History
  • 3 Description
    • 1 Dedicated registration
  • 4 Sources


The box or chest of the Agates is located in the Holy Chamber of the Cathedral of San Salvador de Oviedo . Asturias .


The Caja de las Ágatas represents the testimony of the devotion of Fruela II, son of Alfonso III the Great, and his wife Nunilo to the Oviedo cathedral, having donated this piece to him in 1910 , before having acceded to the throne of Asturias to death from his father, in a forced distribution of the kingdom of Alfonso III in three kingdoms – Asturias, León and Galicia, whose specific historical circumstances have not yet been definitively clarified. In fact, Fruela II reigns in León between 924 and 925, on the death of his brother Ordoño II (914-924).

In its current appearance the box or chest of the agates is the product of the careful reconstruction to which it was subjected after the unspeakable attack suffered in August 1977 . The frank plate was recovered years later and integrated back into its original place.


It is a rectangular box, 41’5 x 27 cm., Whose upper part is shaped like a truncated pyramid and is topped by a plate of enamels. The total height of the piece is 16.5 cm. Constructed of pear wood covered with gold foil and embossed with vegetal decoration. In this sheet, more or less elliptical arches and hollows are cut out showing the agate plates, of different shapes and sizes, which give the box its name. Fine polished red, green and turquoise stones are also embedded, giving the piece great color and showiness.

The plate that finishes off the lid of the jewel (15 x 10 cm.) Is from an earlier era and was reused. According to VJ González García, this upper plate was a brooch of a Visigothic royal mantle that, according to tradition, was a gift from Charlemagne to Alfonso II el Casto at the end of the 8th century. Practically rectangular in shape, it is gold inlaid with colored stones and enamels. In these are represented quadrupeds with fish tails , birds and reptiles .

The base of the ark is silver . In it there is an inscription, engraved with a chisel, that surrounds the carved image of the Cross of Victory, between whose arms appear the symbolic animals that represent the four evangelists. The aforementioned inscription serves to document this gem :

Dedicated enrollment

This offered by the servants of Christ Froila and Nunilo, called scemena, remain welcomed with joy in honor of God. This work was completed and granted to San Salvador de Oviedo. Whoever dares to snatch these gifts of ours, is killed by divine lightning. It was made in the 948 era.


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