Monday, 8 October 2012

7th Century Saxon Gold Disc Pendant

These gold pendants came up in my Pinterest feed without much in the way of information, but a little digging within the pages of the British Museum website turned up a bit of info.  They were found in King's Field, Faversham, Kent (UK).  This is a site where the presence of royalty has been documented over many centuries -- Ethelbert had a residence there during his reign (560-616). The pendants are from around 600-650 AD, made of gold, glass and garnet.  The garnet in the piece on the right has an odd shape which suggests that it may have been "reclaimed" from another item and put into this one.  Reusing gold and gems was a pretty common practice, so it's possible that the gold was also reclaimed from another source.  The gems were likely originally from India or Bohemia.  Still, it was an expensive gem and the person who commissioned the pendant on the right was sparing no expense as it has a filigree border made to look like rope, which again, was a costly order.  This, my friends, was Early Anglo-Saxon bling:

This pendant would have been strung together with similar shaped pendants with gold or perhaps glass spacer beads.  To give you a sense of scale, it's 1" long (2.5cm) by 0.7" wide (1.75cm).  Similar opaque blue glass was found in the Sutton Hoo burial.

The raven pendant is similarly made of gold and garnet, with a diameter of 1.4" (3.45cm) and a height of 1.45" (3.65cm).  These pendants of gold and garnet and filigree were a female fashion, most often found in Kent, but finds have occurred as far north as Yorkshire. The raven pendant is a bit of an odd one though.  The filigree bands and the central ring are similar to Kentish disc brooches, but the central (missing) garnet, the garnets on the bird's heads and the birds themselves betray a Frankish influence.  Personally, I like to think that the curly hearts is a female indicator, but that's just me...

The bird's heads form a triskele and I really can't help but see them as ravens due to their hooked beaks.  Similar amulets have been found on the continent, but they tend to form swastikas.  It looks like the person who wore this pendant had a mixed background of both the continent and Britain.  They also had a lot of money and some great fashion sense (for a 7th century Anglo-Saxon).

If you're interested in reading more about Faversham, King's Field, or these pendants, here are my sources:
Faversham, King's Field:

The British Museum:
Oval Pendant:

Raven Pendant

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  1. More than reading, I am more interested in acquiring one of these treasures. That Early Anglo-Saxon bling would pass as fine modern necklace if paired with the right outfit. But I know owning them isn't possible, so I would settle for having them as an inspiration to a design. Lorita @

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