We used to refer to this period as the 'Dark Ages', partly because it was regarded as a peroid without culture or governance and partly because we did not have enough artefacts to understand the people who lived in the time. We now know that culture was vibrant, and governance well developed. We explore the ordinary people who lived through this exraordinary time though our collection of 'everyday' Saxon and Viking artefacts.
ANGLO SAXON CROSS POTENT BROOCH
We always try to have 'context' in our exhibits. That means we usually discuss what came before, and what came after, the period we are focussing on. When the Romans left Britain a power vacuum opened. It was filled with Saxon and Scandinavian settlers. This brooch comes without a personal story (such things are gold dust in this period!). It does, however, say a lot about the simple tastes and skilled artistry of this fascinating people, whose cultural legacy on Britain is often over looked.
VIKING GAMING PIECE
This item is a Pawn from a Viking board game called Hnefatafl, similar to chess except that one side begins the game completely surrounded by the other. It was found in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, which was once the border of the 'Danelaw' (the area of Northern England controlled by the Danes). It tells us that the Viking culture was more sofisticated than many would have us believe.
SAXON SPINDLE WHORL
A late Saxon Spindle Whorl (a weight used in the process of 'spinning' wool or flax into yarn for making textiles). The example in use is from the Andover Iron Age Museum.
A clothes or hair pin, which has been bent (probably for use as a 'votive' offering to the gods). Similar objects are still in use today, over 1,000 years later.