William Sterling

Anglo Saxon Treasures

The first version of this course was about the invasion and settlement of post-Roman Britain by Germanic tribes contrasting the role of Bede, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and archaeology in interpretation.

It provided an introduction to the wealth of treasures in the British Museum from burial sites and other archaeological digs in England dating from the C4th to C11th.  We covered the changing burial customs, especially pre-Christian, of the earliest Anglo-Saxon settlers from the late Roman period and during the Anglo-Saxon settlements.  Gold and silver ornaments were examined as well as treasures made from less precious items such as ivory and glass.  Some of the most important burials, in particular Sutton Hoo, were examined in more detail.  Hoards such as the Cuerdale Viking hoard was also examined showing the changing nature of evidence and what it can say about later generations.

I ran this course at the City Lit and the British Museum in February 2010 to coincide with the exhibition on the Staffordshire Hoard and November 2013 in association with the new Early Mediaeval Gallery.

I revised the course to add more information of the great manuscripts surviving from the period such as the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Lichfield Gospels, the Benedictional of St Æthelwold and the Harley Psalter.  I divided the course into three sessions: “Pre-Christian” (including the great royal burials at Taplow, Sutton Hoo and Prittlewell as well as the Staffordshire hoard), “Christian” (the great manuscripts and individual objects such as the Franks Casket) and “Unification and Vikings” (the pieces associated with Alfred and his family, coin hoards and later manuscripts).

Below are copies of the handout


Anglo-Saxon Timeline

There are other Anglo-Saxon resources on my website if you care to explore them including the first part of an ongoing project to create and interactive database of Anglo-Saxon charters and an extract from my PhD thesis on royal women at the time of Bede which was lost from the final version.