Artefacts of the Anglo Saxon Era | Ad Gefrin

Artefacts of the Anglo Saxon Era

10th August 2023

The Anglo Saxon period, which spanned from the 5th to the 11th century in England, was a time of rich cultural and historical significance. It witnessed the rise and fall of kingdoms, the spread of Christianity, and the creation of exquisite art and craftsmanship. 

One place where you can delve into the ‘Golden Age’, known as the Anglo Saxon period, is at Ad Gefrin.

Ad Gefrin is home to an immersive experience that takes visitors back in time to this captivating period, sharing the remarkable stories of kings and queens, as well as showcasing the nationally significant collection of Anglo Saxon artefacts, from precious jewellery to formidable weapons.

A Glimpse Into the Past

In the picturesque village of Wooler on the edge of the Cheviot Hills, the Ad Gefrin museum offers insights into the world of the Anglo Saxon royal court under the rule of King Edwin.

Ad Gefrin takes its name from the nearby royal palace of Gefrin, also known as Yeavering. Today, Ad Gefrin stands as a testament to and celebration of the rich heritage of the region, shining a light on the importance of the archaeological site of Gefrin. 

Unearthed in 1949, the ancient site  known as Gefrin or Yeavering underwent an extensive excavation conducted by archaeologist Brian Hope-Taylor from 1953 to 1962. This meticulous excavation unveiled an expansive complex consisting of  timber halls, a unique wooden grandstand and various supporting structures. These remarkable discoveries have solidified the palace's status as one of the most important archaeological sites of the 20th century.

Anglo Saxon Artefacts 

Anglo Saxon jewellery, gemstones, and weapons offer a glimpse into the rich history, craftsmanship, and cultural significance of this ancient era, serving not only as symbols of wealth and status but also as expressions of religious beliefs and to create a sense of identity. 

Discover the importance of the items that adorned royalty and nobility of the royal court of Gefrin.

Weapons

Weapons were integral to Anglo Saxon society, reflecting both a warrior's bravery, fighting prowess and cultural values. 

Among these, the sword stood as a cherished symbol, often adorned with intricate designs. 

Spears were also used and were versatile tools, ideal for both thrusting and throwing. Another weapon of choice was the battle axe, with formidable cutting power, they played a vital role in battle attack, whilst colourfully painted shields offered critical protection. Warriors during the Anglo Saxon era used bows and arrows to showcase their archery skills, both in warfare and in hunting.

Weapons at the time were intricately crafted and culturally revered, Anglo Saxon weapons not only represented tools of war but also embodied the spirit and identity of a warrior society.

Jewellery

Anglo Saxon jewellery was a testament to the artistry and symbolism of the era. 

Crafted from precious metals like gold and silver, these pieces featured elaborate designs using techniques such as cloisonné, an ancient metalwork decoration using colourful glass paste encased by surrounding metalwork.

Brooches used for fastening garments, were adorned with intricate patterns and gems, as well as rings, often inscribed with runes, adorned the fingers of both genders. Necklaces and amulets, some believed to have protective qualities, were worn to create an individual's identity.

Gemstones

Gemstones played a central role in the allure of Anglo Saxon jewellery. Garnets, in particular, were favoured for their deep red hue and what the Anglo Saxons believed to be protective qualities. 

Amethysts, with their royal purple shade, adorned regal pieces and were associated with serenity. 

When genuine gems were scarce, coloured glass and enamel were used to replicate their vibrant colours. Amber, prized for its golden warmth, was also occasionally incorporated too. 

These gemstones were chosen not only for their appealing design, but also for the symbolism and good fortune that they brought to the wearer.

Discover the Ad Gefrin Collection

Ad Gefrin museum houses a beautiful collection of precious pieces that once adorned Anglo Saxon nobility. 

The Ad Gefrin collection showcases the craftsmanship of this period, as well as the creativity of designs seen within Anglo Saxon jewellery, ceramics and weaponry. 

The collection includes precious artefacts found at nearby Gefrin, from regional institutions including the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Ford and Etal Estates and the collections of the Duke of Northumberland, as well as items on loan nationally from the British Museum and the British Shakespeare Trust. 

The pieces on display are not only of national importance, but some have not been made available to the public to view for many years, if at all. 

Highlights within the collection include the Great Square Headed Brooch, the Castle Eden Claw Beaker, Shield Boss and Wrist Clasp, all examples of the intricate and masterful craftsmanship of the Anglo Saxon era. 

Exploring the Ad Gefrin Museum and Collection

A visit to the Ad Gefrin museum is a journey through time, offering a glimpse into the lives of the Anglo Saxon people. The special collection of precious jewellery, gems, and weapons provides a unique perspective on the opulence, craftsmanship, and traditions of the era. 

Whether you're a history enthusiast, an admirer of intricate jewellery designs, or simply curious about the heritage of Northumberland, a visit to Ad Gefrin promises an enriching and enlightening experience that transports you to a bygone era of great importance.

Book your visit to experience our immersive Great Hall, as well as the special collection held within our museum, understanding more about the Anglo Saxon era, the stories of kings and queens, and how the ‘Golden Age’ continues to captivate and inspire everything that Ad Gefrin does today.

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