Archive for the ‘Medieval’ Category

Rare Viking chamber grave found in central Norway

Friday, November 27th, 2020

Archaeologists have unearthed an extremely rare chamber grave of a woman from the Viking period at Hestnes, central Norway. The excavation had returned evidence of settlement — post holes, cooking pits — but there was no indication of any graves at the site until the team came across evidence of a rectangular structure in the earth. A dark, greasy layer of soil indicated they’d come across a grave, and excavation revealed the rectangle about 5.5 feet long and three feet wide was what remains of a wooden burial chamber dating from the mid-9th century to the mid-10th century A.D.

“This chamber grave is special, because hardly any examples of graves of this type have been found in our part of the country,” says archaeologist and project manager Raymond Sauvage.

Sauvage explains that the chamber was built in a hole in the ground. After the deceased woman was laid in it, a lid was placed on top. The grave is dated to 850 – 950 CE, and very little was left of the chamber itself after more than 1000 years underground.

“We found imprints of the four posts that stood in each corner and some of the walls. The construction technique and size helped confirm that it’s a chamber grave,” says Sauvage.

Wooden chamber graves were fashionable in urban centers during this period. Hundreds have been discovered in cities like Birka and Hedeby, but they are seldom found outside of population centers.

The burial is unusual in its grave goods as well. The deceased was laid to rest with fine jewelry, including a trefoil brooch that fastened her cloak at her neck. These types of brooches are thought to manufactured in Hedeby which was Old Danish territory at the time. They are rare in Norway, and when they have been discovered there, it’s usually in the southeast of the country which was once Danish.

Even more unusual were the turtle brooches discovered in the grave. The double-shelled brooches were typically used to pin up robes, but these had a whole different function: they held the remains of bone and teeth inside the curved double shells.

Archaeologists have also recovered 339 tiny beads from the grave. The green and purple beads are between one and two millimeters wide, so small the team had to use mesh netting to sift the soil and catch the beads. The mini-beads are yet another extremely rare find. Only a few have been unearthed in graves before, nothing like this number in one place. The densest concentration of beads were over the deceased’s right shoulder. They may have been part of a bead necklace, or may have been used in an embroidered textile.

“In archaeology, it’s common to think that the artefacts in the graves tell us something about the status and identity of the person who was buried. This artefact material indicates that the woman came from the south-eastern part of Scandinavia, and that she was buried according to her own cultural tradition,” says Sauvage.

We can only speculate how she ended up here, but Sauvage says she might have come to Hestnes through an arranged marriage.

“Travelling great distances and building networks over large areas is typical of the Viking Age. Alliances and friendships were the primary social glue in Viking Age society. It was through them that you built your social status and gained political power in an area. Marriage was a way to ally two families in this system,” he says.

Researchers hope to answer questions about her origins by analyzing the bone and teeth found in the turtle brooches.


Pillow brick found in 13th c. clergyman’s grave

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

Archaeologists have discovered the grave of a clergyman with an inscribed stone “pillow” under his skull at the Tsarevets Fortress in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria.  The stone block was engraved with Bible verses in Old Bulgarian and in the middle of them an Orthodox cross, a cross with two horizontal crossbeams, the lower one slanted downwards to the right. There are seven lines quoting the first four verses of the Gospel of John.

Pillow bricks with inscriptions are rare finds in Bulgaria. The closest comparable find was bilingual in Greek and Old Bulgarian, and it was discovered by accident during construction rather than professionally excavated in its original location. Old Bulgarian was used throughout Eastern Europe during the Middle Ages. Also known as Church Slavonic, it was the official language of the Second Bulgarian Empire and is still the official language of several Eastern Orthodox Churches today.

The grave was found in the ruins of a 13th century Holy Mother of God Monastery that was a major religious center when Veliko Tarnovo, then Tarnovgrad, was the capital city of the Second Bulgarian Empire. The remains of the monastery were first discovered in 2014, and the next year’s excavation revealed the ruins of an Early Christian basilica in the same area.

To be buried in this location with funerary furnishings, the clergyman must have been someone of rank, the Father Superior of the monastery at least, and possibly even a Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

The archaeologist [, Prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov who helped translate the inscription,] also explains that the brick with the inscription quoting the first four verses of the Gospel of John from Veliko Tarnovo has been found in a grave with an impressive design, featuring arc built into the wall of the 13th century monastery church.

“Most of the graves of senior clergymen have arcs. It features verses 1-4 from the Gospel of St. Apostle John, posing a number of questions with respect the person in the grave. That may have been the death wish of the buried person because almost all interpreters believe that the Gospel of John starts with a foreword containing some main and major Christian truths… The quote indicates that the buried person was a highly erudite man,” Popkonstantinov elaborates.


Gjellestad ship emerges

Sunday, November 15th, 2020

The excavation of the Gjellestad Ship, the first Viking ship burial mound to be excavated in Norway since 1904, has exposed the surviving structure of the ship. We’ve only seen its outline in a ground penetrating radar scan before, a pointed oval in the middle of a dark circle that marks the circumference of the mound that was built around it. Now the wooden skeleton of the ship itself is visible.

The ship was constructed around the 9th century and dug into a pit. Someone very important was laid to rest inside of it and then a mound was built on top to attest to the high rank of the deceased. The longship was an estimated 65 feet long when new. About 63 feet of its length (and 13 feet of its width) remains, with the losses concentrated and the front and back of the boat.

The excavation began at the end of June and time is of the essence because samples taken from the keel found the wood was ravaged by fungal growth and in imminent danger of disintegration. To preserve the fragile wood after it has been exposed to the air, the team drapes it in perforated plastic sheeting covered with wet cotton canvas. That keeps the soil and wood from drying out. Artifacts have been removed in soil blocks for excavation in laboratory conditions.

The most common artifact unearthed so far are nails, the iron nails with heads and square plates hammered to the end known as clinker plates. These plates were the fasteners, the means by which the planks of clinker-built ships were kept together. As most of the ship’s wood decayed in the soil, the iron nails remained, albeit damaged and fragmented by a millennium of corrosion. Last month, a whole row of nails was uncovered on the southern end of the ship, the area where the planks from stem to stern were nailed to the prow. A corresponding line of clinker nails was also found in situ on the northern section of the ship. Their discovery in their original positions will provide new information on how the ship was built.

While human remains have yet to be found, animal bones have been discovered the middle of the ship. Their large size suggests they belonged to an ox or horse that was ritually buried with the elite individual. The animal bones are located in the area of the boat where the central burial chamber would have been placed. The site has been interfered with, probably by looters when the tomb was still comparatively young, certainly by agricultural activity in the 19th century when the mound above the burial was destroyed to make way for planting. The upper parts of the boat were heavily damaged and archaeologists feared the funerary chamber was lost as well. The discovery of the animal bones gives hope that there might be something to find down there after all, because while the top layer of bones are in poor condition, the lower layers are much better preserved.

Follow the adventures of the Gjellestad excavation in this blog on the Viking Ship Museum’s website. Also, here is Kristofer Hivju, aka Tormund Giantsbane from Game of Thrones, looking like joy incarnate as he aids in the excavation.


Medieval metal faces found in Poland

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

Archaeologists have discovered 200 metal and ceramic artifacts from the Middle Ages in the village of Poniaty Wielkie, east-central Poland. The artifacts are remarkably varied, ranging from jewelry to devotional objects to spurs, and date from the 11th to the 12th/13th century.

Two pieces are of particular note: a copper alloy fitting in the shape of a surprised face, and a small lead plate shaped like a placid/sleeping/contented face. The lead object may have been a seal. The Home Alone face was likely a garment fitting or belt buckle as it has clear mounting holes on the ears. These types of artifacts have not been found in what is now Poland before. They are stylistically similar to pieces made by the nomadic peoples of the Eurasian borderlands.

The area was known to have been settled in the Middle Ages, but it was never archaeologically excavated until 2019 before construction of new gas reservoirs. Two seasons of digs revealed evidence of the medieval town’s commercial activities — furnaces, wells, slag and partially finished metal goods.

Despite the fact that the settlement was situated within the borders of the then Polish lands, many monuments that have been discovered there so far come from the eastern territories, including in Rus, the discoverers point out.

According to [lead archaeologist Jakub] Affelski, the settlement in Poniaty Wielkie could play several roles: perhaps it was a metallurgical center that produced items for nearby castles in Nasielsk and Pułtusk. This is evidenced by the found fragments of slags and metal semi-finished products. In turn, numerous metal seals indicate that it was used for large-scale trade. It is unclear for researchers why there are so many metal objects left in the settlement, which were highly valued at the time. – There is no indication that its end was brought by the invasion – we found no evidence of armed aggression. It is still a big puzzle for us – he concludes.


Oldest in situ remains of bridge found in Scotland

Monday, November 2nd, 2020

The remains of a medieval bridge over the River Teviot near Ancrum in the Scottish Borders have been discovered under the spans of the 18th bridge that eclipsed it. The bridge had fallen down the memory hole after the construction of the 1784 Toll Bridge, known as Ancrum Old Bridge today to contrast it with the Trunk Road bridge built in 1939. Its existence was rediscovered in 2018 by members of the Ancrum and District Heritage Society (ADHS), a local volunteer archaeology group, who came across a reference to it in the minutes of a council meeting from 1674.  A little more research found it marked on a 1654 map, and volunteers hit the Teviot riverbank with a drone looking for any traces of the medieval bridge. A stone platform with an embedded timber was captured in one of the drone’s aerial photographs.

With funding from Historic Environment Scotland, ADHS volunteers and experts from Wessex Archaeology surveyed and analyzed the remains. Radiocarbon dating of the timbers confirmed that the bridge was built in the middle of the 14th century. That makes this the oldest set of bridge remains found in their original location in Scotland. Dendrochronologist Dr. Coralie Mills identified the timbers as native oak which is rarely found in Scottish construction after 1450.

Dr Mills said: “The timber structure discovered by ADHS in the River Teviot near Ancrum is a rare survival of part of an early bridge in a hugely strategic historical location. The oak timbers are in remarkably good condition and provide really important local material for tree-ring analysis in a region where few medieval buildings survived the ravages of war….” […]

Dr Bob MacKintosh of Wessex Archaeology Coastal & Marine said: “The results are really exciting. In addition to the surprisingly early date, it seems the foundations were built using branders, a wooden frame laid on the riverbed upon which the courses of stone were placed. This is the first-time branders have been found in an archaeological context in Scotland. They are otherwise only known from historical sources and two accounts of engineering works on extant bridges completed in the 19th and early 20th century.”

Just 10 miles from the border with England, the bridge connected the abbey and royal castle in Jedburgh to Acrum across the river. From there, trade routes ran to abbeys and castles in Selkirk to the west and Roxburgh and Melrose to the north, so the bridge was vital to the movement of goods and moneys in Scotland. It was maintained by the Augustinian abbey of Jedburgh who profited from the toll fees.

Built during the reigns of David II of Scotland and Edward III of England, the bridge is of historic and strategic national importance. The bridge crossed the River Teviot, carrying the ‘Via Regia’ (The Kings Way), on its way from Edinburgh to Jedburgh and the Border. James V would have crossed here in 1526, as would Mary Queen of Scots returning from her tour of the Borders in 1566, and the Marquis of Montrose on his way to battle at Philiphaugh in 1645.

Come the Scottish Reformation in 1560, the abbey was destroyed and control of the bridge and its toll income shifted to Royal Burgh of Jedburgh. Time, a brisk current and near-constant war left the bridge in increasing disrepair. Numerous attempts were made in the 17th century to get funds to repair the bridge (that’s what a lot of those town council minutes were about), but they came to naught and by 1698 the bridge was no longer useable. It took nearly a century for it to be replaced by what is now Ancrum Old Bridge.


Is this the self-portrait of mason hidden in a column capital?

Sunday, November 1st, 2020

Carved figure that may be self-portrait of mason on column capital in the nave of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Photo courtesy Jennifer Alexander.A possible self-portrait of a mason has been discovered carved in the capital of a column inside the nave of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The Easter egg was spotted by art historian Dr. Jennifer Alexander during a detailed survey the 11th century cathedral’s Romanesque architecture.

Alexander was conducting a stone-by-stone analysis to work out its construction sequence, in a project funded by the Galician regional government. It was when she was studying the capitals, about 13 metres above the pavement, that “this little figure popped out”, she recalled.

“A lovely image of a chap hanging on to the middle of the capital as if his life depended on it. It’s in a row of identical off-the-peg capitals where they’ve been knocking them out in granite – ‘we need another 15 of that design’ – and suddenly there’s one that’s different. So we think it’s the man himself.

Some of the column capitals in the central nave of the church have uniquely-carved variants featuring animals, angels, devils, Biblical scenes and the like. They imparted at-a-glance theology to the thousands of pilgrims who flocked to the cathedral, and added visual drama to the space. Those capitals are in less obscure locations, however, and this guy is a little too regular compared to the fantastical and Biblical figures on the splashier capitals.

The carved figure is about a foot high and has a round face with large ears reminiscent of a Dr. Bunsen Honeydew with eyes and no glasses. His arms are bent at the elbow so they can comfortably nestle in the chevron shapes formed by the wide banana leaves decorating the capital, basically in a shrug emoji posture. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ His right hand is curled into a fist. He has no left hand. He could be a mason, sure. Then again he could not be one too.

In other Santiago de Compostela news, The Portico of Glory, the cathedral’s high-drama three-arched entrance façade built in the 12th century by French architect Master Mateo, underwent a 12-year program of restoration that was completed in 2018. As much as possible, the polychrome paint on the portico’s 200+ figures was conserved, but much of it was lost centuries ago and what remains is mostly the result of later interventions. During the restoration work, the portico was documented in unprecedented detail with more than 2,700 gigapixel photographs capturing every inch of the elaborately-decorated  surfaces. Those photographs were converted into a digital 3D model and made available in a ground-breaking free app that allows users to crawl over every last detail of The Portico of Glory, see it before and after restoration, learn about the deterioration of the carvings and the treatments, all accompanied by an audio tour.

The app goes a giant step beyond the visuals with the music. The characters on the portico include 21 who bear musical instruments. Researchers recreated those instruments in 3D and then recreated the music they played, so while you examine the masterpiece of medieval art, you are accompanied by a soundtrack that not only matches the period, but the specific musicians on the archway itself. It is unbelievable, truly.

You can download The Portico of Glory app for iOS here and for Android here.


Historic medieval book returns to Ireland

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

One of Ireland’s greatest medieval manuscripts has returned to County Cork, Ireland, the land of its birth, after a century spent at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, seat of the Dukes of Devonshire. The Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement have donated the 15th century Book of Lismore to University College Cork (UCC) where it will go on display in a planned Treasures Gallery in the university’s Boole Library.

Today the book contains 198 large vellum folios (42 have gone missing over the centuries). It starts with the lives of Irish saints and other religious texts from Europe, and then moves on to Irish translations of Paul the Deacon’s 8th century History of the Lombards and The Conquests of Charlemagne, a 12th century forgery purported to have been written in the 8th century by Archbishop Turpin of Reims. It also includes the only known Irish translation of The Travels of Marco Polo. The translated texts make up about half of the book. The rest contains native Irish texts, including tales of Irish kings and heroes and a topographical text describing of the lands of Fermoy, County Cork.

The Book was written around 1480 for the 10th Prince of Carbery, Fínghin Mac Carthaigh Riabhaigh of Kilbrittain Castle in County Cork. It was kept there until the 1640s when the castle was besieged. Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork, took the book to his seat of Lismore Castle. Lismore Castle came into the Cavendish family by marriage in the 18th century and became the Irish seat of the Dukes of Devonshire. During renovations in 1814, the manuscript was discovered in a walled-up doorway along with the Lismore Crozier, an early medieval bishop’s staff now in the National Museum of Ireland.

The Dukes of Devonshire have lent the manuscript to scholars since its discovery, but it never went on public view until 2011 when they lent it to UCC for an exhibition.

The Duke of Devonshire stated “Ever since the Book of Lismore was loaned to University College Cork for an exhibition in 2011, we have been considering ways for it to return there permanently. My family and I are delighted this has been possible, and hope that it will benefit many generations of students, scholars and visitors to the university.” […]

With over 200 Gaelic manuscripts in its collection, UCC is Ireland’s leading centre for the study of the materiality of the literary artefacts of Gaelic Ireland. The Book will now be the centerpiece of this large collection at UCC’s Library, and the donation of the manuscript to UCC marks a further stage in the commitment of the Cavendish Family to the scholarship of The Book of Lismore.

These Gaelic manuscripts already form the basis for extensive teaching and research, and The Book of Lismore, written on vellum and being at least 150 years older than any other manuscript volume in the collection, offers a rare field of study.


Attn shoppers: Viking home in aisle 4

Sunday, October 25th, 2020

A Lidl grocery store that just opened in Dublin has the remains of an 11th century Viking home on display under its floor. When the building on Aungier Street near Dublin Castle was slated for redevelopment as a street-level retail space with student housing in the upper stories, a team from the Irish Archaeological Consultancy was enlisted to survey the site. They discovered the remains of the 1,000-year-old house, which only survived because this dwelling, very atypically for the time and place, had a cellar. It was dug out below ground level and the cellar was lined with masonry blocks. Wooden planks were then added to form the floor of the home. The planks are long gone, but the outline of the home is clearly visible thanks to the surviving stone blocks.

In order to preserve this unique dwelling of Hiberno-Norse Dubliners, the archaeological material was left in situ and covered by a thick plexiglass floor so customers can enjoy the history of the city while they shop. And not just medieval Dublin. There used to a be an 18th century theater on the site, and archaeologists also unearthed a brick “pit trap,” a hidden compartment under the stage that actors would burst out of to appear suddenly on the scene or drop into to disappear. The pit trap area, in a prime location right in front of the checkouts, was covered by plexi as well so it can be viewed while shoppers wait to make their purchases. I wonder if there will be a decline in impulse buying of candy and magazines now that customers have something cooler to fixate on in the checkout line.

The store has put up an array of information panels about the archaeological treasures under their feet. There are explanations of the finds and drawings interpreting the remains.

The foundations of the medieval parish church of Saint Peter, which served Dublin parishioners from c.1050 to c.1650, are also preserved beneath working areas of the new building.

“Hopefully this project sets a new benchmark for the treatment of archaeological heritage in the city. There has been a very collaborative approach from all sides.

“I think we have to challenge the Celtic Tiger approach of putting up a hoarding, excavating a site and then putting up a development,” said Dublin City Archaeologist Dr Ruth Johnson.

This video has great views of the Viking Lidl:


Witches’ marks found in ruins of Medieval church

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

Archaeologists have discovered “witches’ marks” on the remains of the medieval church of St Mary the Virgin in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire, England. Two stones were found that were engraved with a symbol of a circle containing lines radiating from a central drilled hole. These are believed to be witches’ marks, symbols of apotropaic magic that ward off harm and malign influences by entrapping them in a maze. Similar signs have been found on buildings all over Britain, and in some cases can be reasonably interpreted as sundials use to keep time in church. The St Mary’s marks, however, were found in the walls of the west buttress practically at ground level. There was no sun going to be hitting that stone to make it work as a timekeeper.

The team has been excavating the site of the long-demolished church to salvage any archaeological and human remains from the church’s burial ground in advance of construction of the HS2, a new high-speed railway connecting London to Scotland and 25 stops in between.

Detailed research into the structure of the church has allowed archaeologists to piece together a history of the development of St Mary’s. The church started off as a chapel built in about 1070, shortly after the Norman Conquest and may have been at first the private chapel belonging to the lord of the manor at that time. The church was soon extended, and an aisle added in the 1340s. These new additions seem to mark a transition from a chapel used for private prayer to a church that was used by the local villagers.

The church was replaced with a red brick parish church in the village proper in 1866 and the old one on the outskirts of town fell into disrepair. It was condemned in the 20th century and demolished in 1966. Unfortunately the demolition was not documented at the time, so archaeologists had no idea what might be left of the church. Much to everyone’s surprise, a significant section of the 14th century church was still there. The floors are intact and the walls stand almost five feet high.

The entire church is now being excavated and carefully dismantled. Work is expected to continue into 2021, and they may find even more once of the medieval remains have been raised, for example a Saxon church that may have existed on the site before the Norman chapel was constructed.

HS2 will be hosting a webinar on the archaeological finds at St Mary’s on Wednesday, October 28th, at 12:15 GMT. If you can attend live, you can ask the archaeologists questions via chat. The session will also be recorded and posted on HS2’s YouTube channel after it airs. There are several previous webinars about the archaeology of the HS2 already uploaded to the channel.

See the church rebuilt in this CGI rendering:


The mnemonic powers of disc-on-bow brooches

Saturday, October 17th, 2020

Between the 6th and 8th centuries, high-status Scandinavian women wore distinctive pieces of jewelry known as disc-on-bow or button-on-bow brooches. Intricately gilded and inlaid with red garnets from Sri Lanka and India, the fibulae have been found exclusively in female burials or as stray finds divorced from their original contexts. A new study published in the European Journal of Archaeology contends that the brooches, introduced at the dawn of Viking raids on Ireland and Britain, and used a hundred years after they were no longer being produced, were not just luxury goods telegraphing the wealth of the wearer, but symbolism-laden connections between the elites, their past and their religious beliefs.

The first examples of them date to the late 6th century, and there’s a clear evolution from smaller, simpler pieces to large, elaborate ones. By the end of the 8th century, they were so big and heavy that they could not have been worn with ease and are thought to have been intended for use only on special occasions.

Ritualized or extraordinary costumes, including jewellery, are intrinsically linked with class, social roles, or certain forms of behaviour or postures. Dress, power, and ideology are, thus, mutually integrated elements. Found in what seems to be exclusively female burials, the brooches may have been particularly important as family heirlooms, passed down between women in the same lineage. In this perspective, the disc-on-bow brooches may represent objects associated with the perpetuation of stories relating to genealogy and family identities, and hence the control and perception of time. […] Such objects would be particularly effective if they possessed exclusive identities referring to ancestors, genealogies, and origin myths.

Disc-on-bow brooches make notable appearances as iconographic motifs on objects associated with ritual. Women wearing the brooches are carved on amulets and the gold figure foils engraved with images of important people/deities that have been found at aristocratic dwellings and sites of religious significance in medieval Scandinavia. In these depictions, the brooches are worn horizontally on the neck just below the chin with the head plate pointing to the right of the wearer. This placement matches the position of the brooches found in graves in Norway.

One of the most stunning examples is actually a stray, having been found atop a boat burial mound in Melhus, central  Norway, in 1901. Later excavation of the tumulus found it was a double burial of one man and one woman, so while it was not found in situ around her neck, it was almost certainly part of this noblewoman’s funerary accessories. The Melhus brooch dates to the late 8th century when these types of jewels reached their apex in size and complexity. Of the 53 disc-on-bow brooches discovered in Norway, 24 were made in the late Merovingian period, between 725 and 800 A.D. At 9.4 inches long, the Melhus brooch is the largest ever discovered in Norway, which means it was made at the end of the period of production.

The dating, context, ornamentation, and fragmentation of the disc-on-bow brooches points to an increase in such complex referential practice, with a marked change in attitude towards these brooches and their separate parts from around ad 700. During Phase 3, the development of the brooches becomes quite extreme: they reach almost unwearable proportions, the garnets, interlace, and Style III decoration increasingly covers all possible surfaces. This, and the growing number of carefully divided brooches and re-used fragments, suggests that the disc-on-bow brooches became gradually more significant as social and symbolically-charged objects actively integrated within ongoing political and social practice. […]

[T]he context and use of the disc-on bow brooches entail aspects of power and hierarchy. Mnemonic objects benefit those families and individuals that have access to and ownership of the inalienable objects in question. As not everyone has equal access to such objects, their possession and display may be perceived as representing a noble good, legitimizing social hierarchies, privileges, and distinction. Access to such heirlooms could, thus, be associated with family memories and personal identities, but also remove signal rank, distinction, and authority.

The possession of heirlooms associated with high social status or genealogy may increase in significance at times when inherited status is threatened by groups or individuals who have acquired higher status through, for example, new political institutions, new forms of economic transactions, or the vagaries of war (Lillios, 1999). This would fit the context of Norse society in the late Vendel period and early Viking Age, from the early eighth into the ninth century. The intensification of the North Sea trade, and the raiding and colonization on the British Isles may have contributed to a more volatile political situation in the Norse homelands, compromising traditional inherited status. This could have resulted in an increased emphasis on the mythical concepts and social distinction represented by exclusive objects. This could explain why the brooches grew to enormous sizes and featured increasingly lavish decoration during the eighth century, and why they were kept in circulation by some families well into the Viking Age. This could, in turn, indicate that similar ideas are detectable in other material categories, as notions and definitions of relevant timeframes and pasts could affect different social groups, with varying reactions and counter-reactions.





November 2020


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