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6. Anglo Saxon grave goods

Complete glass beaker, gold pendant and sleeve or wrist clasp.

Very few Anglo Saxon settlements have been found; most of what we know about these people comes from finding their dead. Apart from the evidence from the human remains, another main form of evidence comes from grave goods. The Anglo-Saxons may have believed death was like a journey, and the dead were given goods to help them on their way. From grave goods we learn about how they dressed, and what tools and weapons they used. The grave goods may have defined you as a man or a woman, as rich or poor.

This complete glass beaker is a rare and beautiful survival. Don’t be fooled by the colour though, as it was originally clear glass. When glass has been buried in the soil for many years it begins to delaminate, where the layers of glass begin to separate and change colour. Only wealthier people would have used a beaker like this one, cups made from pottery, wood, horn and leather were more common. The beaker was found amongst a group of objects in a grave. It suggests the grave would have been that of a high status woman.

This gold pendant found at Horncastle has a garnet inlay and is in the shape of an insect. This pendant is unusual because the stylised “fish scale” inlay is very rare. The inlay dates to the 5th Century but the object was turned into a pendant in the 7th Century. This type of reuse is very uncommon.

Sleeve or wrist clasps were found in women’s graves. They were sewn on to sleeves that were slit at the wrist. They could be hooked together to act as a closure. These clasps were found at a Saxon cemetery site at Ruskington, and they are gilded copper alloy.

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Last updated: 22 February 2011

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