7th Century


Anglo-Saxon Finger Ring, 7thC - 8thC AD. Gold finger-ring; broad, flat hoop expanding to large oval bezel; covered with bands of twisted wire, simulating plaiting and diverging at the shoulders to enclose a circular design in pearled wire and pellets. Principal motive may be a quatrefoil, pellets in centre and interspaces forming a cross pattee. | ↳THE BRITISH MUSEUM


Anglo-Saxon Sword Pyramid from the Stafforshire Hoard, c. 7th-8th century

The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found. It was discovered in a field near the village of Hammerwich, in Staffordshire on 5 July 2009. The items, over 3,500 in all, date from the time of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, c. 7th-8th century.

The sword pyramid is one of a pair. These pyramids are hollow inside, with a bar across the opening rather like on a belt buckle. Pyramids like this have been found in a number of Anglo-Saxon graves, lying beside sword scabbards. The pyramids would have adorned a leather strap that would have been attached to a scabbard (which is a cover for a sword).  Straps like this are mentioned in the Viking sagas, where they are called ‘peace bands’. They could be tied around the handle of the sword, securing it in place in the scabbard so warriors were not able to draw their swords suddenly in anger.

The Staffordshire Hoard is remarkable for the extraordinary quantity of sword fittings. Most are of gold and many are beautifully inlaid with garnets. Such elaborate and expensive decoration would have marked out the weapon as the property of the highest echelons of nobility. The discovery of a single sword pyramid is a notable event - to find several pairs together is absolutely unprecedented.

When he was bathed and had rubbed himself with oil and myrobalan, she laid a plank on a part of the floor well swept and levelled, on which he sat down: she then placed before him on a well trimmed plantain leaf two platters.  Having given him some water to drink, she served him with two spoonfuls of rice, to which she added ghee and sauce, the rest of the rice he ate with spices, curds, butter, milk and rice gruel. She finally brought him water to drink pure, cool, and fragrant in a new jug, perfumed with agallochum.  From the section on Mitragupta in the दशकुमारचरित (7th cent. CE)

You know its an Indian story when a rich 18 year old from Kanchi disguises himself as a poor fortune seller to find a bride who will agree to cook rice for him. The orphan girl who agrees to do so does a mighty fine job of it too from sending off the rice bran to the goldsmith (to clean jewels), scenting the rice water from her cooking for a bath for her guest and finally serving up the rice with various little preparations.  A most accomplished girl.

Still from Vaagai Sooda Vaa (click to see larger pic).

Gold belt buckle from the ship burial at Sutton Hoo

Anglo-Saxon, early 7th century AD

From Mound 1, Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, England

Like most Anglo-Saxons, the man who was buried at Sutton Hoo wore a waist belt. These were fastened with buckles whose metal and decoration reflected the wealth and status of their owner. From the belt usually hung a knife, and occasionally a leather pouch to hold personal possessions.

This magnificent buckle was made of gold and weighs 412.7 grams. It is hollow and made in two parts joined by a hinge placed on the back beneath the loop. The master-craftsman who made it devised a locking system involving a complex system of sliders and internal rods which fit into slotted fixings. These fill the interior leaving little space for the safe storage of a relic, a function which has been suggested for such hollow, high-status buckles (see the buckle from Crundale, also in the British Museum). Reliquaries in the form of belt buckles are well known from the continent.

The surface of the buckle and the tongue plate are decorated with writhing snakes and intertwining four legged beasts. Their bodies are highlighted with punched ornament filled with black niello. At the tip of the buckle, two animals gently hold a tiny dog-like creature in their gaping jaws. These, together with the two birds’ heads on the shoulders with cruel, curving beaks, make this buckle one of the most powerful images from early Anglo-Saxon England.


Shoe originating from China c. 6th-7th Century
Shoe composed by two halves joined at the back of the heel and at the toe. The halves are made of superimposed layers of woollen and hemp textiles stitched together and bound with silk along the edges. The sole is made of leather. On the top of the shoe and at the back of the heel there is an applied band of embroidered and braided silk. The sides of the shoe are also embroidered with floral designs.