Archaeological society snipes 1,700-piece Anglo-Saxon collection before auction

A collection of more than 1,700 Anglo-Saxon artifacts dating to the 6th and 7th century A.D. has been acquired by the Kent Archaeological Society just before it was to sold at public auction last Friday. The Ozengell Anglo-Saxon Collection includes a wide array of jewelry, buckles, weapons fittings, glassware and pottery found in excavations of an Anglo-Saxon burial ground near Ramsgate in Kent.

The first Anglo-Saxon artifacts were found at the site in 1846 during railroad construction. Many of those objects are now in museums including the World Museum in Liverpool and the British Museum. The objects amassed in the collection were unearthed from 192 graves at the Ozengell Anglo-Saxon cemetery between 1977 and 1981.

Some of the stand-out pieces of the collection include a gilt-silver disc brooch set with three wedge-shaped garnets, large numbers of amber and glass beads, a hemispherical glass bowl and two glass globular bottles with narrow necks, a pottery urn decorated with a linear pattern, another decorated with triangles and stippling, a circular incense vessel, copper, bronze and gilt-silver buckles, iron shield bosses, knives and a pair of tweezers with incised decoration. The collection was loaned to The Powell-Cotton Museum from 1983 through 2010. Only a selection of the massive collection was ever displayed.

After the Ozengell Collection was returned to the owner, he sold four glass pieces from the collection at auction in 2011. Eleven years later, 50 boxes full of the remaining 1,700 pieces were offered in a single auction lot at Roseberys in London with a pre-sale estimate of just £12,000-15,000 ($14,000-17,000). Before the hammer could fall, however, a private sale was arranged to the Kent Archaeological Society. It complements and augments the society’s nationally important collection of Anglo-Saxon grave goods. Selected objects will go on display in concert with artifacts from the Kent Archaeological Society’s wider collection.