24 May 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

A gilded silver Anglo-Saxon object “made by someone with a real eye for loveliness” has the experts baffled

An enigmatic Anglo-Saxon object has been unearthed in a captivating discovery near Langham, Norfolk, East of England.

This gilded silver artifact, which dates from the late eighth or early ninth century, is both a testament to the sophistication of ancient artisanship and a mystery that has yet to be solved.

Despite the skill that would have been required to make it, the roughly 1,200-year-old object has no apparent purpose and remains a mystery to archaeologists.

Detectorists in Norfolk found the gilded silver relic, which is 19.4mm (0.7in) in diameter with intricate designs depicting a stylized animal looking over its shoulder.

The artifact boasts a meticulous design with a flat, circular top and short, straight sides forming a shallow, hollow cylinder. The object is adorned with a meticulously crafted spiral pattern and a backward-looking animal, possibly a horse. This design bears a striking resemblance to the style found in the Book of Kells or the Lindisfarne Gospel, both renowned for their intricate illustrations.

This piece was created using a sophisticated technique known as gilding, in which mercury was mixed with powdered gold to accentuate the design – a process indicative of the period’s high level of craftsmanship.

One of the object’s 8.5mm (0.3in) sides is bent inwards, resulting in a crack, but it has survived more than 1,000 years in the soil. The object uses a design popular in the Anglo-Saxon period and has a “backward-looking animal” – possibly a horse. Photo: ANDREW WILLIAMS/NORFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Helen Geake, the Norfolk Finds Liaison Officer and a respected historian commented on the artefact. She believes the ornate trinket reveals the skill of Anglo-Saxon craftsmen.

She told the BBC: “It was made by someone with a real eye for loveliness.

“It’s so tiny and yet it was created just as carefully as something like a Bible or piece of jewellery.”

It is believed the design would have been created using gold and mercury imported from Spain. While the skill and expense suggest the object was as important as personal jewelry and the ornaments added to sacred texts, experts do not know what the artifact was used for.

Dr. Helen Geake speculates that it might have been part of a staff, the rest of which has decayed over the centuries.

The discovery of this Anglo-Saxon object not only adds to our understanding of historical artisanship, but it also piques the interest of experts and history buffs alike. As we delve deeper into the mysteries of the past, such discoveries provide fascinating glimpses into our forefathers’ creative prowess and technical skills.

Adding to its mystique, the object has been officially declared a treasure by a coroner. The Norwich Castle Museum has expressed an interest in acquiring this extraordinary piece for its collection.

Cover Photo: ANDREW WILLIAMS/NORFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Related Articles

8,000-year-old Yarmukian ‘Mother Goddess’ figurine discovered in Israel

9 July 2022

9 July 2022

An 8,000-year-old Yarmukian Mother Goddess figurine was found at Sha’ar HaGolan archaeological site, located on the northern bank of the...

A cave in Argentina houses the oldest known pigment-based rock art in South America

15 February 2024

15 February 2024

An astounding collection of almost 900 rock paintings, dating back approximately 8,200 years, has been discovered in northwestern Argentina. The...

‘Australia’s silk road’: the quarries of Mithaka Country dating back 2100 years

4 April 2022

4 April 2022

In Queensland’s remote Channel Country of red dirt and gibber rock, traditional owners and archaeologists have unearthed what researchers have...

The first Bull Geoglyph discovered in central Asia

29 September 2021

29 September 2021

Archaeologists from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of History of Material Culture (IIMK RAS) and LLC Krasnoyarsk Geoarchaeology discovered...

Archaeological settlements dating back 3000 years found in Qurayat, Oman

2 October 2022

2 October 2022

Archaeological research in Oman’s Qurayat Province has revealed numerous archaeological and historical settlements, some dating back more than 3,000 years...

Peru finds perfectly preserved a wooden figure in the Americas’ largest mud-brick city

29 June 2022

29 June 2022

A perfectly preserved wooden figure has been discovered at the Chan Chan archaeological site, in northern Peru, the Ministry of...

The oldest evidence of human cannibalism as a funerary practice in Europe

7 October 2023

7 October 2023

According to a new study, cannibalism was a common funerary practice in northern Europe around 15,000 years ago, with people...

Hundreds of oil lamps discovered in Aigai, “the City of Goats”

23 September 2023

23 September 2023

During the ongoing excavations in the Aigai Ancient City, located near the Yuntdağı Köseler Village of Manisa province in western...

A protected Punic-Roman tower “Tal-Wilġa” has been turned into a building site

15 August 2021

15 August 2021

The Tal-Wilga tower, one of Malta’s Punic-Roman heritage sites, is in danger from construction work near it. The Superintendent of...

Mystery ax discovered off the coast of Arendal of Norway

26 July 2021

26 July 2021

Researchers have discovered a find that could be a first for Norwegian archeology. A hollow ax, which researchers believe dates...

Rare Langsax fighting blade with Viking origins discovered in Poland

20 August 2021

20 August 2021

Archaeologists working in the Wdecki Landscape Park in Poland’s Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship have discovered a rare langsax long knife with potential...

Bronze Age Treasure Found in Swedish Forests

30 April 2021

30 April 2021

A man who studied the forest to make a map for the orienteering club in western Sweden made an incredible...

Unique ancient Egyptian amulet seal discovered during archeological excavations in northern Turkey

11 November 2022

11 November 2022

During archaeological excavations in the ancient city of Amastris in the Amasra district of northern Turkey’s Bartın, an enchanted amulet...

Archaeologists discovered a sunken prehistoric fort in Clew Bay island

1 April 2024

1 April 2024

A sunken prehistoric fort has been discovered on Clew Bay island off the north Mayo coast, Ireland. It has been...

Archaeologists have unearthed a flawless Roman blue glass bowl in the Dutch city of Nijmegen

23 January 2022

23 January 2022

Archaeologists excavating the site of a comprehensive housing and green space development in Nijmegen’s Winkelsteeg, one of the oldest cities...