5
Dec
2017

Saxon jewellery haul shows accessories our ancestors wore

The valuation of a haul of Anglo-Saxon jewellery has provided a tantalising glimpse into the fashions of our long-ago ancestors.

A history student and now archaeologist named Tom Lucking found a cache of buried jewellery near Diss in East Anglia in 2014 while out metal-detecting.

He uncovered the grave of a woman believed to be of high status dating back to around 630-650 AD - and it was full of gold, copper and much more. 

An inquest declared the find to be treasure last year and it has now been valued by the government's Portable Antiquities Scheme within London's British Museum at £145,000.

One of the biggest pendants was made of gold and inlaid with garnets and that was worth £140,000 alone, while coins and other items made up the rest of the treasure trove.

Appropriately-named Mr Lucking said he will put his share of the money he receives from the find towards a deposit on a house.

Much of the jewellery discovered was still on the skeleton of the unknown owner, which was quite moving to read about and really helped to provide a look at some of the fashions of the time.

Unfortunately, only scraps of costumes from most Anglo-Saxon graves remain due to degradation and the effects of the water in the ground, meaning it's hard to get a feel for what they wore.

However, jewellery remains intact and it's this that demonstrates how they liked to portray an image through accessories, just like us. They might not have had Instagram, but they were nevertheless keen to show off status with pendants of gold, glass beads, amber and amethyst to anyone who happened to be looking. The Saxons liked circular pieces with intricate patterns, often featuring religious connotations.

They also favoured bangles and brooches to fasten their shawls for warmth, as well as jewellery around the waist that historians think was purely for decorative rather than functional purposes.

It's quite strange to think of people like this female from long ago, walking on the same land we did, and looking at their jewellery helps us to feel a connection with the past that doesn't always happen from history books and documentaries. A truly fascinating find and piece of news, for certain.

If you've been inspired by this treasure, you can get a Saxon-esque pendant here at Majique that's also inscribed with 'love', while this one has an intricate pattern.

There's also a bangle for wearing higher up on the arm if you want to, just like our ancestors would have done.