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AS-jewelry-art - 4/11/96


Jewelry found at Anglo-Saxon archeological sites.


NOTE: See also the files: jewelry-msg, Anglo-Saxons-msg, AS-Cloaks-art, fd-Anglo-Saxn-msg, casting-msg, beads-msg, coronets-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: jennyb at pdd.3com.COM

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Anglo-Saxon Costume- course review (long)

Date: 19 Feb 1996 09:57:33 -0500


I went to Bristol last Saturday for a course on Anglo-Saxon costume, I thought

there might be people on this group interested in a course report?


There was a Dr John Hines from the University of Wales who gave a fascinating

paper on work he's done with analysing Jewellery. Some academics believe that

the Vikings arrived in England around the 8th century having had no contact

with the country before because until the 8th century their ships hadn't

advanced sufficiently to make it across the North Sea. Other academics

contended that this was a load of rubbish & pointed out that polynesians

could cross the pacific on rafts, so why on earth couldn't vikings make it

across a tiny little bit of North Sea when they'd had boats better than

rafts since at least the bronze age?

Problem is there was very little to prove anyone's theories one way or another,

so it was all just so much academic arguement. Then John Hines came along &

for his doctoral thesis compared English jewellery with Norwegian & found rare

types appearing simultaneously in England &  Norway. he also found decorative

elements on brooches that appeared simultaneously in England & Norway which

provide pretty good evidence for links between teh two countries in 5th &

6th centuries.


He followed up this part of his talk with a load of pictures of Gold foils

showing men in long coats with diagonal crossovers at the front, & showed us

pictures of the dancing men from the Sutton Hoo helmet who wear similar coats.


Next he went on to describe early Saxon dress accessories, which included a

pair of small pins linked by a fine chain which he keeps finding at the neck

in female burials, he thinks they may hold on some sort of head-dress.


It is very rare for one woman's grave to produce the "full set" of dress

accessories, usually some item is missing, newnham croft produced a complete

set of pins & chain, wrist clasps, annular brooches & festoon of beads,

cruciform brooch.


Then he told us about his current research which is identifying different

ethnic groups in Anglo-Saxon Britain by their dress accessories.


Apparently in the 1st century when Tacitus described the tribes to the east

of the Rhine in free Germany there were very many tribes with names that

nobody today recognises. However by teh 4th century other Roman chronicles

mention far fewer tribes: under pressure of their war with Rome the Germans

seem to have consolidated into a few larger tribes, and their names are ones

which sound familiar even today: Franks, Goths, Danes, Turingians, Saxons....


The saxons came from an area just t0o the west of the bottom of the Jutland

peninsula (the peninsula is modern day Denmark). Many brooch types found

across Anglo-Saxon England appear here intermixed. Perhaps the many brooch

types are a result of many diverse tribes each with their own distinctive

style being forced to amalgamate into one group which the Romans called



Traditionally 3 groups from this area are identified as colonising England:

the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. The Angles got East Anglia & parts

further to the west, The Saxons got the home counties (the counties around

London) & the Jutes got Kent with the Isle of Wight.


The Jutes came from the Jutland Peninsula & generally most Jutish material

looks like any general scandinavian material, such items would not look

out of place in Norway or Sweden, but when they are found in Kent we

assume they are Jutish. (There are some distinctibe features which crop up

identifying material as Jutish, but an equal number of Frankish or Roman

features appear).


The Angles aren't the most prominent group in the archeological record

because they practiced cremation so we omly have metal artefacts surviving

in their cremation urns, but still we can identify distinctive features in

their brooches, particularly a type with a cruciform top & spatulate foot.


Dr Hines has been excavating a cemetary at Edicts Hill, Barrington. he has

a new technique for putting graves in chronological order which he wanted to

try out at this site. Basically the graves all have slight differences from

each other: here a decorative line has shortened, there a brooch has a slightly

different outline, at another place a different item has been deposited.

You work out how many differences the graves have from one another & a computer

can put them all on a graph with similar hraves close together & different ones

far apart. This should give you a timeline of graves with early ones at one

end & late ones at the other.


Dr Hines got his curve allright, but when he dated some of the graves from

evidence like coins he found that he had early graves at both ends of the

curve & late ones in the middle, not at all what anyone expected.


He quickly realised that what he actually had was two curves: two different

ethnic groups had used the same burial grounds, over time they had grown

together & the differnces between the groups vanished where the curves finally



When the same analysis was tried on other Saxon cemataries the same curves were

found. Eventually Dr Himes managed to identify four different groups: group

A are the most distinctive wearing saucer brooches & never having wrist clasps.

Groups B, C and D are distinguished by different types of cruciform brooches

& group D also uses annular (ring shaped) brooches.


in the 6th century groups B, C, and D merge, whilst group A with the saucer

brooches stays seperate.


At Edicts hill there was a group of graves in a line, all with women of similar

status & buried awqay from the rest of the cemetary. It was assumed that these

graves were a family group, but all the costume types are distinct! there is

one pure A one pure C one pure D and one mixed. What could the explanation

be for one family having women of different ethnic groups? Of course they could

not be from one family, but the identical status & separate location does make

it likely. Dr Hines thinks that the practice of exogamy may explain these

graves. Exogamy is the practice of Women being married away from their homes.

Up to the last century in Germany when women were married all the posessions

they would need for their married life were loaded onto a cart & they drove

off to another area totally away from their family. whereas the men stayed

put tied to the land which was passed down generations through the male line.


If this happened in 4th - 6th century England then it would explain why one

family group might have women from distinct ethnic groups within it, and

would also explain why the different groups were co-existing: they were

intermarrying & exchanging women.


It would be interesting to see how the man's equipment compares with that

of the women, but the early Saxon Men are not buried with brooches or other

jewellery, so it is not to easy to analyse their ethnic groups. Maybe some

work might be done on knife, sword, spear or shield boss types? I don't

know enough about this area to know if there are enough distinct types to

make a useful analysis possible.


When Dr Hines had finished Gale Owen-Crocker gave a talk, I've heard her

before, so a lot of the talk wasn't news, but she had one interesting

observation: all illustrations of men with their tunics either split at the

side or hitched up at the side so their thighs show are barefoot too. Maybe

the split side tunics are underwear & when they strip down to that level

they also take off their shoes, or maybe the split side tunic is a low status

garment worn by people who can't afford enough cloth to make a flared tunic

& also can't afford shoes.


Gale Own-crocker mentioned that all Saxon sites which yield 3 shaft twills

also have signs of Roman influence, such as a Saxon Woman buried in hob-

nailed boots (popular with Romans, incredibly rare amongst Saxons). She

believes this may be because on sites showing strong Roman influence the

Roman 2-beam loom survived in use & was not superceded by the warp weighted



Brian Weightman gave a talk on tablet weaving & showed some stunning

reproduction samples. Having taken a degree in Archaeology & studied

archeological finds of tablet weaving he now makes a living supplying

reproduction braids & jewellery, he handed out sample books with explanations

of the techniques used in the sample braids, these must have taken ages to

produce, it was really good to have a sample of the braids to refer to as he

was demonstrating with scaled up equipment which totally failed to convey

the quality of the originals. Similarly slides of finds do not convey the

original colours or the scale of the weaving as well as the reproductions.


He gave demonstrations of many tablet weaving techniques, but teh one I

found most interesting was an Icelandic technique which was new to me: Two

wefts are used to give a double cloth. The tablets are threaded through the

two holes on one side with one colour and the two holes on the other side with

anothercolour. The tablets are just moved forwards & backwards being left on

their points so there are two sheds for the two wefts.

This gives two tabby weave cloths one above the other, with each cloth in a

different colour.

Then the tablets can be flipped over occasionally, this brings the opposite

colour to the surface as the two colours of warp exchange. As the two colours

of warp exchange they also stitch the two tabby weave bands together.

I'm afraid I'm giving an awful explanation of the technique, it's really

difficult to describe without pictures.


There was loads more but I don't have time to type it all in, still I thought

you might be interested in hearing about the bits I have got time to type.

I'm afraid it's not a complete report as it's biased to teh stuff that was

new & interesting to me, I hope it's new & interesting to someone else out

there too!


Jennifer Bray

jennyb at pdd.3com.com


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org