Posts in Category: Saxon

April - The Beast of East Anglia 

Wednesday, April 06, 2016 1:01:00 PM Categories: Accessories Animals Brooch Copper Metal Saxon

Our chosen find this month was found on the Suffolk border and is a type of Saxon brooch that has a growing population on the Portable Antiquities Scheme Database.  

Photograph of Saxon brooch featuring backwards turning beast and ring and dot decoration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The number of these brooches recorded by the scheme and the identification and recording team at Gressenhall is now approaching 90. These brooches are found as far away as the Welsh border, but interestingly the distribution is proving to be very much centred on East Anglia. 

The brooch is a late Saxon disc type dating to circa 850-1000 AD and depicts a backwards facing beast. It often, but not always, features ring and dot decoration as part of the design.

The map below is a form of geographic map plot called a ‘heat map’ and gives a colour-contoured representation of the distribution, where red depicts the highest density.  As you can see East Anglia seems to be home to the beastie

Heat map of the distribution of backwards facing beast brooches in England.

 

January - In a fever 

Friday, January 01, 2016 10:18:00 AM Categories: Lead Metal Saxon

January's Find of the Month is one that if found by most people would be rejected and probably consigned to the recycling bin. It is only after a very close inspection that the nature of the object changes quite dramatically. On the face of it, it is nothing but a corroded and bent sheet of lead, but in a raking light a row of straight-line intersecting characters are just discernible incised into the surface. To a trained eye this is recognisable as a runic inscription, a form of early alphabet used before the adoption of the Latin alphabet.  The word Rune means 'mystery' or 'secret' in Old Germanic languages and runes played an important role in ritual and magic, with ancient inscriptions being found across Europe and Scandinavia.

Photograph of lead plaque bearing runic inscription

The inscription on this pierced lead sheet can only be partially made out and there are a number of possible interpretations of the meaning.  Dr Gaby Waxenberger of the Runes Research centre in Munich has evaluated the object and believes it was probably intended as a charm to ward off fever or some other disease and dates to circa 700-800 AD in the Middle Saxon culture.


Detail of runic inscription

The inscribing of lead is not restricted to the Saxons, the practice was also commonplace during the Roman period with a good deal of inscribed lead being found at the sacred springs in Roman Bath.  

So if you happen to find a piece of folded lead look at it closely before disposal, it may just be a message from centuries past.

The artefact was found in a cultivated field not far from Fakenham. Full details can be seen at www.finds.org.uk using find reference NMS-63179C.

August - You would shardly notice that it's broken! 

Friday, August 01, 2014 11:41:00 AM Categories: Pottery Saxon

Think of the range of saucepans, tupperware, washing-up bowls, cardboard boxes, plastic buckets and tins as well as plates, mugs and serving dishes which we use today. In the past, pottery vessels fulfilled many of these domestic and industrial functions, so the remains of these containers can be found almost anywhere. Although pots break into pieces very easily, the individual sherds survive well in the ground and the quantity, type and date of pottery from a site can tell us a lot about how the site was used in the past. Other containers made of wood or leather rarely survive in the archaeological record.

Photograph of Late Saxon pit rim with stamped decoration

This is a rim sherd of a Late Saxon Thetford-type ware storage jar with the stump of a strap handle, stamped decoration on the upper edge, an impressed wavy line on the exterior, and clay added to the interior, the top and the exterior. The original diameter of the vessel would have been about 290mm. Pots like this were made in Thetford, Ipswich and Norwich between about 850 and 1100. 

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