Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New Archaeological Find--An Anglo-Saxon Princiess

Recently, on several different mailing lists that I follow, I read about an interesting archaeological grave find; the rather well-preserved remains of an early Anglo-Saxon princess.  Articles about the find appear here and here, among other places.

The articles indicate that the princess appears to have been about 16 years old when she died.  She is believed to have been a Christian because she was buried with a striking gold-and-garnet cross around her neck.  Pictures of the cross appear with most of the articles.  The cross has loops on each of its four ends, suggesting that it might have been sewn to an article of her clothing.  The grave has tentatively been dated to the mid-to-late 7th century CE, partly because of the style of the cross and partly because the princess was found placed upon the remains of an ornamental bed, with a wooden frame and a mattress; the few other "bed burials" known are from this period.

The princess was found with other items associated with wealthy ladies of this period, e.g., an iron knife, a chatelaine, and a small number of glass beads which appear to have been kept in a purse that hung from the chatelaine.

The article says that some preserved textile remains have been found on the knife and chatelaine, and I hope that they are thoroughly analyzed.  It would be wonderful to have more textile information from this period, because grave finds, common in the 5th and 6th centuries CE, become rare in Anglo-Saxon England after the Christianization process got underway.  This princess's grave might contain information that would help expand our knowledge of Anglo-Saxon costume.

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