I have been asked "Why so many different Anglo-Saxon Bow brooches?"
With each of the Germanic invasions of England,
Saxon Jute Angle
You then see the latest German fashion in the form of Bow Brooch Styles brought with each of the waves of invasion. You see a succession of brooches,
Cruciform Small Long Long
With each new King the fashions would change to follow his new continental style!
Source of garnets in Anglo-Saxon, Frank and Germanic jewelry.
Where did the slab cut garnets used in much of the 6th to 8th Century of the Anglo-Saxon, Frank and Germanic jewelry come from? Trying to make these garnet slabs with modern garnets sold as jewelry is quite a challenge! So how were these cultures able to produce their beautiful jewelry?
Since the onset of large scale metal detecting activity in the 1970s there has been a huge increase in new finds in England. In her book, Viking Identities: Scandinavian Jewellery in England Jane Kershaw states "The vast majority of the Scandinavian-style jewelry recovered in England - 450 items, around 89 per cent of the total corpus - represent single finds, discovered via metal detecting." Among these are many amulets, Thor's Hammers, coins, horse mounts and much female ornaments, including brooches and pendants.
This new material has shown that the Viking settlement in England was quite a bit larger than ever imagined!
In the last few years metal detecting has reached quite a lot of fame with the find of Anglo-Saxon artifacts in Saffordshire. A hoard of over 3,500 items from the time of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. The hoard was valued at over 3 million pounds!
Most of the finds were of military source, the most impressive being these cheek plates.
The Vikings and Saxons used woven trim to decorate their tunics. There are several depictions of Viking warriors and Viking women wearing tunics and over tunics with woven trim on the edges of their clothing.
On of the amazing facts is that you can still find trim available for your Viking and Saxon garb that uses those same elements! These examples were purchased from Calontir Trim and are available on the web or at most major events. Over a thousand years later and you can still find examples of this trim readily available!
In this second example you can see more geometric patterns!
This running pyramid style trim is also shown in this plaque showing a female figure.
In Sweden, before the Vikings, was the Vendel Culture, based around Uppland. Old Uppsala was the political and religious center that had Royal Mounds with incredible riches. These were boat burials with surviving helmets now in Swedish Museum of National Antiquities. This area must have been a flourishing kingdom long before the Vikings! There were riches of iron, fur and slaves, that were used to acquire art that we now see from the grave sites.
These brooches are a new offering from that time, before the Vikings left their home in search of gold! When Sweden itself was having its first golden age.
The brooches are from a customer suggestion. Their depiction of a warrior is just splendid.
Viking Chess Set - The Lewis Chessmen Found near Uig on the Isle of Lewis in a sand dune in 1831 these chess pieces now are split between the British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland. The 93 pieces were made in Norway between 1150 - 1200. During that time these island off the north coast of Scotland were part of the Kingdom of Norway. The pieces closely follow the fashions of the court of Trondheim and a similar piece has been found there that was broken in times past. Probably left by a merchant who never returned to claim them. These pieces were carved in walrus ivory and whale teeth and form the major pieces for four sets of major pieces and some pawns. You have seen the chessmen in many movies including the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone movie.
Combs are some of the oldest tools dating back at least 5,000 years! There are many finds both in burial finds and lone finds.
So how were they used?
If you look at Roman paintings you find neatly combed hair in both men and women. In later Saxon and Viking times you can again refer back to the helm plaques at both the finds at Birka, Vendel and Sutton Hoo. You find warriors with neatly combed shoulder length hair.
A very fine tooth comb was used to remove fleas and is often called a "nit comb". The expression "go over with a fine-toothed comb" meaning "to search out in minute detail" comes from these combs. It took a lot of time and care to use a "nit comb"
A comb must have been a necessary part of any good Viking, Saxon, Roman kit!
Married women had a very strong position during Viking times. Keys helped express this. When a couple was married, the wife was given a set of keys to symbolize her new status. The bronze keys hung in full sight on her clothing and opened the strongboxes and padlocks of the household. When the god Thor had his Thor’s hammer stolen by the giants, the disguise he used to steal it back was a woman's costume – with a bunch of rattling keys.
There are a large number of keys from Viking times both in female graves and as individual findings. Bronze keys were often small works of art worn on a Viking woman's costume. Often the designs used intertwined animal figures. The day she got married, she got the keys to the farm doors and treasure chests as a visible sign of her position and power.