Franks Casket 800AD Anglo-Saxon Germanic Danish Viking British Pagan Christian

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Seller: ancientgifts ✉️ (5,287) 100%, Location: Lummi Island, Washington, US, Ships to: WORLDWIDE, Item: 383675162764 Franks Casket 800AD Anglo-Saxon Germanic Danish Viking British Pagan Christian. “The Franks Casket” (British Museum Objects in Focus) by Leslie Webster. NOTE: We have 75,000 books in our library, almost 10,000 different titles. Odds are we have other copies of this same title in varying conditions, some less expensive, some better condition. We might also have different editions as well (some paperback, some hardcover, oftentimes international editions). If you don’t see what you want, please contact us and ask. We’re happy to send you a summary of the differing conditions and prices we may have for the same title.DESCRIPTION: Softcover. Publisher: British Museum (2012). Pages: 64. Size: 8 x 5¾ inches. Summary: The whalebone box known as the Franks Casket has intrigued and puzzled viewers since its rediscovery in the nineteenth century. Made in northern England in the eighth century AD, the sides and lids of the rectangular casket carry some of the richest and most intricate carvings known from Anglo-Saxon times. The lively scenes depicted are drawn from a variety of sources, including Germanic and Roman legends and Jewish and Christian stories. They are accompanied by texts in both Old English and Latin, written in both the runic and Roman alphabets. At some point in its mysterious history the casket was dismantled. One of the end panels is in the Bargello in Florence; the rest of the box is in the British Museum, with the missing piece represented by a cast. This book explores the meaning, function and history of this extraordinary icon of Anglo-Saxon culture, describing and explaining the significance of the stories depicted in its magnificent carvings. 51 illustrations, 49 in color. CONDITION: NEW. New oversized softcover. British Museum (2012) 64 pages. Unblemished, unmarked, pristine in every respect. Pages are pristine; clean, crisp, unmarked, unmutilated, tightly bound, unambiguously unread. Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! #8869a. PLEASE SEE DESCRIPTIONS AND IMAGES BELOW FOR DETAILED REVIEWS AND FOR PAGES OF PICTURES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK. PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW. PUBLISHER REVIEWS: REVIEW: This concise, beautifully illustrated guide explores the enigmatic Franks Casket, carved from whalebone in 8th century northern England, and decorated with scenes from tales both pagan and Christian, as well as runic inscriptions. Leslie Webster helps the general reader to make sense of its iconography and meaning, the processes of its manufacture, and its somewhat confused history - it was rediscovered in modern times in France, whilst one panel remains in Florence. REVIEW: The latest in the British Museum Objects in Focus series, The Franks Casket by Leslie Webster is published today by the British Museum Press! The whale-bone box known as the Franks Casket has intrigued and puzzled viewers since its discovery in the nineteenth century in France. Made in northern England in the eighth century AD, the sides and lid of the rectangular casket carry some of the most intricate and intriguing carvings from Anglo-Saxon times. The lively scenes depicted are drawn from a variety of sources, including Germanic and Roman legends and Jewish and Christian stories. They are accompanied by texts in both Old English and Latin, using the runic and Roman alphabets.Setting the Franks Casket in its political and religious context, and looking at the significance of its ingenious images and inscriptions, this book explores the meaning, function and history of this extraordinary icon of Anglo-Saxon culture. Detail from the casket’s front panel illustrates Weland the Smith at his forge. Along the left edge, the runes read hronaes ban, ‘whale’s bone’, describing the material from which the casket is made. The left end of the casket illustrates the Roman legend of the twins Romulus and Remus, who were raised by a she-wolf. The helmeted general Titus, who leads the assault on Jerusalem, resembles in his bearing and battle-gear the leading warrior on the lid. REVIEW: Lidded rectangular box made of whale-bone, carved on the sides and top in relief with scenes from Roman, Jewish, Christian and Germanic tradition. The base is constructed from four sides slotted and pegged into corner uprights, the bottom plates fitted into grooves at the base of the sides. It possibly stood on four low feet. Only one decorative panel now survives in the lid, the remaining elements being almost certainly replacements. There are scars left by lost metal fittings on the exterior - handle, lock, hasps and hinges - and crude internal repairs. The five surviving decorated panels are variously accompanied by carved texts in Old English and Latin, using both conventional and encoded runes as well as Insular script, in a variety of orientations. Each side is bordered by a long descriptive text and three contain additional labels; the lid panel has only the latter, though a longer text may originally have accompanied it. The front is divided in two: the left half shows a composite scene from the Weland the Smith legend, the right half, the Adoration of the Magi, with the label 'mægi' carved above the kings. The main inscription takes the form of a riddling alliterative verse about the casket's origin. The left-hand end depicts Romulus and Remus nurtured by the wolf with an inscription describing the scene. The back panel shows the capture of Jerusalem in AD 70 by the Roman general, later emperor, Titus: labels on the two lower corners read 'dom' = 'judgment', and 'gisl' = 'hostage' respectively. The main inscription is in a mixture of Old English, Latin, runes and insular script. The right-hand end poses special problems of interpretation. The apparently episodic scene is evidently from Germanic legend but has not been satisfactorily identified. Three labels read: 'risci' = 'rush', 'wudu' = 'wood' and 'bita' = 'biter'. The main runic text is in alliterative verse partly encoded by substituting cryptic forms for most of its vowels and perhaps certain other letters. The lid appears to depict an episode relating to the Germanic hero Egil and has the single label 'aegili' = 'Egil'. REVIEW: The Franks Casket was probably intended for use in a royal context. It is now incomplete; the lid lacks its framing inscription, and the right side-panel, separated from it in the early nineteenth century, is in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence. The casket's carved scenes draw on Roman, Jewish, Christian, and Germanic traditions and are accompanied by commentaries mainly in the runic alphabet (futhorc), in Old English and (briefly) Latin. The Adoration of the Magi on the front panel is set alongside the Germanic tale of the exiled Weland.Imprisoned by King Nithhad, Weland exacts a terrible revenge, murdering the king's two sons and raping his daughter. Weland is not an obvious parallel for Christ but both share the fate of exiles fleeing a tyrannical king and illustrate models of good (Christ) and bad (Nithhad) kingship. The lid depicts a siege from an unidentified episode in the life of the Germanic hero Egil, while the back shows the capture of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70. This event was seen to symbolize the triumph of Christianity over Judaism, and the similar siege from the unknown Egil story probably echoes this theme.The left panel shows the legend of Romulus and Remus suckled by the wolf as a symbol of the mother Church offering succor. The enigmatic right panel is a wilderness scene identified by an encoded inscription that relates how Hos suffers at the hands of Ertae. These characters have not been identified, but in juxtaposition with the Romulus and Remus panel, which is representative of Christian salvation and life, this image is suggestive of paganism and death.The casket resembles some fourth- to fifth-century ivory boxes such as that from Brescia, northern Italy. It served as a reliquary but was probably made to hold a holy text such as a Gospel, or the Psalms, and this may have been the original purpose of the Franks Casket. It has been linked to the cult of St. Julian at Brioude, where it may have served as a reliquary. In 1291, the lord of Mercoeur "made homage and swore loyalty to St. Julian, to the chapter and church of Brioude, and to the aforesaid dean, hand on the holy Gospels, and devoutly kissing a box of ivory filled with relics, as is the barons' custom." It has been suggested that the carved scenes might have been reinterpreted in such as way as to relate to the life of St. Julian, thus making the casket's conversion to a reliquary entirely plausible. REVIEW: Franks Casket was probably intended to contain a copy of a religious book such as the Gospels or Psalms. Its style suggests it was made in Northumbria and dates to around AD 700. At this time, Northumbria was the largest and one of the most powerful of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. It was also a stronghold of Christianity. During the early AD 600s, Northumbria followed the Irish form of Christianity established there by St Aidan, who founded the monastery of Lindisfarne. Tensions with the Roman church, which was stronger in the other kingdoms, were resolved at the Synod of Whitby in AD 664 and Northumbria adopted the Roman church. By the time the casket was made, the twin monastery at Monkwearmouth-Jarrow was in the process of becoming one of the most important centres in Europe for Christian scholarship. The casket has five faces, all decorated with scenes from recognizable stories. The front of the casket is divided into two zones. On the left is a scene from the story of Weland the Smith, a violent pagan legend known both in Anglo-Saxon and north European versions. On the right is depicted the Adoration of the Magi, when the three wise men visited the new-born Christ. The panel on the left end shows Romulus and Remus, twin brothers brought up by a wolf in Roman legend. The back shows the capture of Jerusalem in AD 70 by the Roman emperor Titus. The right-hand end and the lid have scenes from other Anglo-Saxon stories.Only one of these stories is Christian; the others are drawn from pagan contexts: Anglo-Saxon legend, ancient Roman legend and ancient Roman history. This demonstrates the way in which different cultural and religious traditions co-existed in England and offered Anglo-Saxon artists a rich source of narrative and motif on which to draw. Scholars suggest that the juxtapositions of these scenes from different traditions bring out a number of specific themes: life and death, exile, and salvation.The complexity of the scenes and the inscriptions in runes and other scripts indicate that the audience for which the casket was produced was well-educated. Understanding of the Christian scene derived from other visual representations of the Adoration and from hearing it recounted, though ultimately the scene had its basis in the written word of the Bible. The same applies to the Roman scenes. These probably derived from visual or literary versions encountered through contemporary contact with Roman culture rather than through any familiarity that had lingered since the Roman occupation of Britain some 300 years earlier. In contrast, the Anglo-Saxon stories on the casket are examples of oral traditions of storytelling passed on over hundreds of years. Storytelling was a form of entertainment and many stories would be heard around the fire in the evenings, but it was also used on formal occasions when important matters of legitimacy and social identity were consolidated by the retelling of oral histories. Not long after this casket was made, some of these Anglo-Saxon stories, which existed in several oral versions, became crystallised into a single version and were then written down. The most famous example of this is the story of Beowulf, a long epic poem which some scholars believe was first written down in Northumbria around the middle of the AD 700s. Another Anglo-Saxon cultural form was riddling. One expert argues that the whole casket is a riddle to be worked out by the owner. Certainly, one of the inscriptions - on the front - poses a riddle about what the casket is made of. It reads: “The fish beat up the seas onto the mountainous cliff; the king of terror became sad when he swam onto the shingle.” This refers to the beached whale from whose bone the casket was made. This way of hinting at meaning rather than saying something directly occurs in another feature of Anglo-Saxon poetic language known as kennings. Kennings combine words to create an often beautiful image, for example, the sea is called the whale-road and a ship is called a sea-stallion. The poem Beowulf contains over a thousand kennings. REVIEW: Since its rediscovery in the nineteenth century, this whale bone box, now one of the British Museum's great treasures, has intrigued and puzzled scholars. Carved and constructed in northern England in the eighth century AD, its lid and sides carry lively scenes drawn from Germanic and Roman legends and Jewish and Christian history, and are accompanied by texts in both Old English and Latin and written in both runic and Roman alphabet. With the earliest recognised versions of famous Germanic legends, the longest runic texts and the earliest examples of narrative art from Anglo-Saxon England, it provides a unique window onto the early medieval world. Leslie Webster is Honorary Professor, Institute of Archaeology, University College, London, Honorary President, Society for Medieval Archaeology, and Former Keeper, Department of Prehistory and Europe, British Museum, London (2002-2007). She has written and lectured widely on Anglo-Saxon and related early medieval subjects, including co-authoring the catalogues of four major exhibitions on the Early Medieval period which she co-organized ("The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art 966-1066", "The Work of Angels", "The Making of England AD 600-900", and "Heirs of Rome"). Her popular book on "The Franks Casket" is due to be published by the British Museum in August 2010 (price a very modest £5.00!), and, when she is not speaking on the Staffordshire Hoard, she is currently working on a book on Anglo-Saxon art. REVIEW: Leslie Webster was formerly Keeper of the Department of Prehistory and Europe in the British Museum. She specializes in the Anglo-Saxon period and was the co-editor of “The Transformation of the Roman World”, “The Making of England” and “The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art”. TABLE OF CONTENTS: 1.A Tale of a Whale and Other Stories. 2.Deciphering the Message. 3.When, Where and Why? 4.Puzzling out the Past.PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS: REVIEW: The Franks Casket (or the Auzon Casket) is a small Anglo-Saxon whale's bone (not "whalebone" in the sense of baleen) chest from the early 8th century, now in the British Museum. The casket is densely decorated with knife-cut narrative scenes in flat two-dimensional low-relief and with inscriptions mostly in Anglo-Saxon runes. Generally reckoned to be of Northumbrian origin, it is of unique importance for the insight it gives into early Anglo-Saxon art and culture. Both identifying the images and interpreting the runic inscriptions has generated a considerable amount of scholarship.The imagery is very diverse in its subject matter and derivations, and includes a single Christian image, the Adoration of the Magi, along with images derived from Roman history (Emperor Titus) and Roman mythology (Romulus and Remus), as well as a depiction of at least one legend indigenous to the Germanic peoples: that of Weyland the Smith. It has also been suggested that there may be an episode from the Sigurd legend, an otherwise lost episode from the life of Weyland's brother Egil, a Homeric legend involving Achilles, and perhaps even an allusion to the legendary founding of England by Hengist and Horsa.The inscriptions "display a deliberate linguistic and alphabetic virtuosity; though they are mostly written in Old English and in runes, they shift into Latin and the Roman alphabet; then back into runes while still writing Latin". Some are written upside down or back to front. A monastic origin is generally accepted for the casket, which was perhaps made for presentation to an important secular figure, and Wilfrid's foundation at Ripon has been specifically suggested.The post-medieval history of the casket before the mid-19th century was unknown until relatively recently, when investigations by W. H. J. Weale revealed that the casket had belonged to the church of Saint-Julien, Brioude in Haute Loire (upper Loire region), France; it is possible that it was looted during the French Revolution.[6] It was then in the possession of a family in Auzon, a village in Haute Loire. It served as a sewing box until the silver hinges and fittings joining the panels were traded for a silver ring.Without the support of these the casket fell apart. The parts were shown to a Professor Mathieu from nearby Clermont-Ferrand, who sold them to an antique shop in Paris, where they were bought in 1857 by Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks, who subsequently donated the panels in 1867 to the British Museum, where he was Keeper of the British and Medieval collections. The missing right end panel was later found in a drawer by the family in Auzon and sold to the Bargello Museum, Florence, where it was identified as part of the casket in 1890. The British Museum display includes a cast of it. READER REVIEWS: REVIEW: A great contribution to a great British Museum series. This book is one of a number of excellent British Museum guides to important historical artifacts. As well as tracing the origins of the Franks Casket, the book explores its complex (and seemingly contradictory iconography) to present a persuasive case for the artwork forming part of a coherent exploration of belief and power. REVIEW: Five stars! Love it! Gorgeous pictures, very interesting and informative text. REVIEW: A very informative booklet. Worth a reading! ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND: THE FRANKS CASKET: The Franks Casket, also known as the Auzon or Clermont Casket, is a whale's bone box bearing illustrations and Anglo-Saxon runic inscriptions. It was discovered in the mid-19th century in a private home in Auzon, Haute-Loire, France, by a Prof. Mathieu from Clermont-Ferrand. Most of it was acquired by Sir Augustus Franks, and donated to the British Museum in 1867. Although it is now prominently on display in the Museum, nearby the Sutton Hoo treasure, its significance for English history has never been fully appreciated. The Casket is generally attributed to early eighth century Northumbria, the milieu of the Venerable Bede (673-735), and known as the "Golden Age of Northumbria" (Hawkes and Mills, 1999). Three of the panels are well understood to represent the founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus, the conquest of Jerusalem by Titus, the Adoration of the Magi, and a tale from Germanic mythology, the revenge of Wayland the Smith. The lid is more controversial, but three scholars have associated it with various scenes from the Trojan War.The fifth panel is least well understood, but was definitively explained by A.C. Bouman in 1965. Bouman compellingly interprets the right panel as celebrating the brothers Hengist and Horsa who, according to both Bede and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, founded England in the mid-fifth century A.D. In particular, it depicts Hengist mourning Horsa after he died at the battle of Aegelesthrep in 455 A.D. Although Bouman did not appreciate it, once the fifth panel is correctly understood as relating to Hengist and Horsa, the rest of the Casket falls into place as using the other great world events as metaphors for the history and destiny of England. The Trojan War scene on the lid thus depicts Achilles about to be slain by Paris, just as Horsa himself was slain in battle by the Britons. The lid therefore likens the Anglo-British War, which at the time was the greatest war in English memory, to the Trojan War, the greatest war in all human memory. The English play the role of the ultimately victorious Greeks, while the Britons represent the ultimately vanquished Trojans. The left panel depicts the discovery of Romulus and Remus, the brothers who by tradition founded Rome. England was likewise founded by two brothers, "far from their native land," and hence will one day be as great as Rome. The rear panel depicts Titus conquering Jerusalem and exiling the Jews, just as the English, led by Hengist, ultimately conquered Britain and exiled the Britons. The front panel represents the world's progress from paganism to Christianity, but specifically that of England from the dark (5th century) days of Hengist and Horsa to those of modern (8th century) Northumbria. Altogether, the Casket is a tribute to the founding and destiny of England. THE FRANKS CASKET: A small whalebone casket, or box, carved in relief on all four sides and the lid. It is named after the modern collector who owned it and whose name was Sir Augustus Franks. That it is English and of the eighth century is proved by the inscription on the front face (shown in the image) which is in Old English language, and written in the letters known as English runes. It describes how the whale from the bones of which the casket was made was washed up on the shore. There must originally have been a precious metal fastening and other fittings: you can see the holes and scars where these have been broken away.The scenes on the casket include: The Magi; Weyland the Smith; Romulus and Remus; The Sack of Jerusalem; Tristan’s Pyre; The Siege. This scene on the right-hand side of the front of the casket certainly shows the visit of the Magi or the Three Kings to the baby Jesus. The large flower-shape in the middle at the top represents the Star of Bethlehem, and to the left of it there is inscribed in runes the word ‘Magi’. The baby Jesus (identified by his halo with a cross in it) is represented on his mother’s knee on the right, and the Magi approach him from the left bearing their gifts. The bird in front of the first of them is probably just a piece of decoration to fill space. In this scene of Weyland the Smith, from the left-hand side of the casket’s front face, the figure on the left is a blacksmith, marked out by the pincers he holds and the hammer in front of him. His right leg is bent at an awkward angle. This figure must be Weyland, a blacksmith who was captured by a king who wanted to use his near-magical skills, and to retain him hamstrung him (that is he cut the tendons of his leg). To wreak his revenge, Weyland killed the king's sons and made a drinking cup from one of their skulls. The headless corpse of one of them appears at Weyland's feet, while he offers a cup to the first of two ladies. According to the Old Norse writings, this was the king's daughter (presumably with her attendant), whom Weyland would drug with the drink in the cup made from her brother's skull, and would then rape. He would then make good his escape with a magical flying cloak made by his brother from the feathers of birds. The brother is evidently the person on the right of the scene who is strangling birds in preparation for making that cloak. The scene of Romulus and Remus on one of the side of the casket shows Romulus, the legendary founder of the city of Rome, and his brother Remus being fed by a she-wolf. The animal is lying on her back in the middle of the scene, suckling the two boys who are represented head-down with their legs in the air. The male wolf appears at the top of the scene, and there are two hunters on each side. The Sack of Jerusalem scene on the back of the casket shows the sack of the city of Jerusalem by the Roman emperor Titus (79-81) as described by the Roman historian Josephus. The arched structure in the middle of the scene is the Jewish Temple of Solomon, adorned with lions. Roman soldiers are advancing on the temple in the top left panel, while others are on its roof stripping off the covering. In the other panels, the defeated Jews are forced to flee. The scene depicting Tristan’s Pyre was at one end of the casket was separated from the rest and is now in Florence. There is a replica of it in the British Museum in London. On the left, an animal-headed figures sits on a mound facing a warrior with helmet, shield and spear. To the right of him, a horse stands with its head leaning down to what seems to be a pile of logs, showing us the corpse on it. A female figure stands to the right of this pyre, facing it. To the right of her, three women are standing, apparently with their hands touching. This scene is rather enigmatic, but its subject does not seem to be Christian. Possibly it is related to the story of Tristan, which appears in twelfth-century German writings, and includes the pyre of the hero as well as his beloved horse Grani. The scene known as “The Siege” is the top of the casket. The subject of the scene cannot be identified, but it was clearly a military one, with warriors from the left attacking the house of a man called Egil (his name is written in runes above him), who is defending it with bow and arrows. Behind him is presumably his wife seated under an elaborate arch.The importance of the casket, for understanding the nature of culture and literature in the early middle ages, of the combination of scenes from: Christian teaching (the Magi); Roman history (Romulus and Remus and the Sack of Jerusalem); and Barbarian tradition (Weyland the Smith, the defense of Egil’s house, Tristan’s pyre). What it means that a Christian scene (the Magi) is placed beside a non-Christian scene with pagan overtones (Weyland the smith), and that a scene from Roman history which was important to Christian history (the Sack of Jerusalem) is juxtaposed with scenes from pagan, or at least non-Christian, history (Romulus and Remus, Tristan’s pyre).What light does this cast on the nature of conversion to Christianity? Was it a real conversion or just one of form? Or was the significance of these non-Christian, pagan scenes long since forgotten by the time the casket was made? THE FRANKS CASKET: When it came to light in the nineteenth century, this magnificent rectangular casket was being used as a family workbox at Auzon, France. Some time during its mysterious history it was dismantled and one end panel was separated from the rest of the box. This piece was bequeathed to the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence, and is represented here by a cast. The remaining panels were presented to the British Museum by one of its greatest benefactors, Sir Augustus Franks, after whom the casket is named. It is also known as the Auzon casket.The box is made of whalebone, richly carved on the sides and lid in high relief with a range of scenes and accompanying texts in both the runic and Roman alphabets, and in both Old English and Latin. Silver fittings attached to the casket, a handle, locks and hinges, were removed at some time in its history, leaving scars which mark their original positions. The non-decorated part of the lid almost certainly replaces a carved piece, and part of the plain base is also missing. The front is divided into two scenes: the left is derived from the Germanic legend of Weland the Smith, while the right depicts the Adoration of the Magi, when the three wise men visited the newborn Christ, labelled "mægi" in runes. The left-hand end shows the founders of Rome identified in the accompanying text as Romulus and Remus, from the legend of twin brothers brought up by a wolf. The back shows the capture of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. by the Roman Emperor Titus. This scene has an inscription in mixed languages and scripts. The right-hand end is a cast, and is difficult to interpret, but recalls a lost Germanic legend with a text partly in encoded runes. This appears to describe a person called Hos sitting upon the "sorrow-mound." The decorated panel in the lid shows another Germanic story about a hero named Ægili who is shown defending a fortification from armed raiders.Surprisingly, the main runic inscription on the front does not refer to the scene it surrounds. It is a riddle in Old English relating to the origin of the casket. It can be translated as "The fish beat up the seas on to the mountainous cliff; the King of terror became sad when he swam onto the shingle." This is then answered with the solution "Whale’s bone." It tells us that the casket was made from the bone of a beached whale.The style of the carving, and dialect of the inscriptions, show that the casket was made in northern England, probably in a monastery, and possibly for a learned patron. Made at a time when Christianity had not long been established in England, it reflects a strong interest in how the pagan Germanic past might relate to Christ’s message, and to the histories of Rome and Jerusalem. How and when the casket arrived in France is unknown, although by the thirteenth century it seems to have been at the important shrine of St Julian at Brioude in the Auvergne. THE FRANKS CASKET: Dating from the first half of the eighth century AD, about the same time that Beowulf may have been written down, the Franks Casket was carved in relief from whale bone (the runes on the front panel speak of a whale stranded on the shingle). A portion of the lid is missing, and end-panel on the right side of the casket has been detached and now is in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence (below). The other panels were purchased from a dealer in Paris and presented to the British Museum in 1867 by the collector whose name they bear. How the casket came from the north of England to Frankish Gaul is not known, but it may have been taken there in the middle of the tenth century and looted from a church during the French Revolution. "Weland, by way of the trammels upon him, knew persecution. Single-minded man, he suffered miseries. He had as his companion sorrow and yearning, wintry-cold suffering..." The front panel pictured depicts the Germanic legend of Weland the Smith and the Adoration of the Magi. Weland (Wayland), the Old English spelling of Volund, the semi-divine smith of Scandinavian lore, was well known to the Anglo-Saxons. A neolithic long barrow near Uffington was thought to have been his smithy, and the ancient corslet that Beowulf wears against Grendel, "the armor cunningly linked by the skill of the smith," to have been crafted by him.His most famous sword, Mimming, is mentioned in the fragment Waldhere as not failing the person who wields it. And King Alfred, in his translation of Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy, substituted the name of Weland, "the famous and wise goldsmith," for that of the Roman Fabricius, the conqueror of the Samnites, because it suggested the notion of "craftsman" (fabricator) and would have been recognized more readily by the reader. The "Lay of Volund" (Volundarkvitha) is one of the oldest in the Poetic Edda, a collection of Norse mythology and heroic legend that survives in the Codex Regius, a unique Icelandic manuscript written about 1270. It relates the vengeful story of Volund, lord of the elves, unjustly held captive by King Nidud (Nithhad), who takes for himself the smith's magic sword and gives the gold ring he had wrought for his Valkyrie bride to his own daughter Bodvild (Beadohild). Hamstrung and imprisoned on an island, Volund is forced to work at the king's forge, making him all manner of wondrous things. But, when the king's young sons come to see his treasures, Volund kills the hapless boys and fashions drinking cups from their skulls and jewels from their eyes, which he sends to the unsuspecting king and queen. From their teeth, he makes a brooch for Bodvild. Later, when she comes to have the stolen ring repaired, she is enchanted and seduced. The lay ends with Volund eliciting an oath from the king that he will harm neither Volund's wife nor child. Rising in the air, he then laughingly reveals to the horrified king the source of the jewels and that he has murdered his sons and impregnated his daughter. So Volund takes his revenge.In this detail from the front panel, Voland proffers the cup to Bodvild, who is accompanied by an attendant. She does not know that it has been fashioned from her brother's skull, whose body can be seen at the smith's feet. On the right, Weland's own brother catches birds to make the wings that they will use for their escape. The juxtaposition of murder and seduction with the birth of Christ may seem an odd iconography, and the intended parallel may be that the heroic Widia, the son born to Bodvild, also redeems sin and suffering.ANGLO-SAXON ENGLAND: The Anglo-Saxons were a people who inhabited Great Britain from the 5th century. They comprise people from Germanic tribes who migrated to the island from continental Europe, their descendants, and indigenous British groups who adopted some aspects of Anglo-Saxon culture and language. Historically, the Anglo-Saxon period denotes the period in Britain between about 450 and 1066, after their initial settlement and up until the Norman conquest. The early Anglo-Saxon period includes the creation of an English nation, with many of the aspects that survive today, including regional government of shires and hundreds. During this period, Christianity was established and there was a flowering of literature and language. Charters and law were also established. The term Anglo-Saxon is popularly used for the language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons in England and eastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century. In scholarly use, it is more commonly called Old English. The history of the Anglo-Saxons is the history of a cultural identity. It developed from divergent groups in association with the people's adoption of Christianity, and was integral to the establishment of various kingdoms. Threatened by extended Danish invasions and military occupation of eastern England, this identity was re-established; it dominated until after the Norman Conquest. The visible Anglo-Saxon culture can be seen in the material culture of buildings, dress styles, illuminated texts and grave goods. Behind the symbolic nature of these cultural emblems, there are strong elements of tribal and lordship ties. The elite declared themselves as kings who developed burhs, and identified their roles and peoples in Biblical terms. Above all, as Helena Hamerow has observed, "local and extended kin groups remained...the essential unit of production throughout the Anglo-Saxon period." The effects persist in the 21st century as, according to a study published in March 2015, the genetic make up of British populations today shows divisions of the tribal political units of the early Anglo-Saxon period. The early Anglo-Saxon period covers the history of medieval Britain that starts from the end of Roman rule. It is a period widely known in European history as the Migration Period, also the Völkerwanderung ("migration of peoples" in German). This was a period of intensified human migration in Europe from about 400 to 800. The migrants were Germanic tribes such as the Goths, Vandals, Angles, Saxons, Lombards, Suebi, Frisii and Franks; they were later pushed westwards by the Huns, Avars, Slavs, Bulgars and Alans. By the year 400, southern Britain – that is Britain below Hadrian's Wall – was a peripheral part of the western Roman Empire, occasionally lost to rebellion or invasion, but until then always eventually recovered. Around 410, Britain slipped beyond direct imperial control into a phase which has generally been termed "sub-Roman". The migrations according to Bede, who wrote some 300 years after the event; there is archeological evidence that the settlers in England came from many of these continental locations. The traditional narrative of this period is one of decline and fall, invasion and migration; however, the archaeologist Heinrich Härke stated in 2011: "It is now widely accepted that the Anglo-Saxons were not just transplanted Germanic invaders and settlers from the Continent, but the outcome of insular interactions and changes. Writing in about 540 Gildas mentions that, sometime in the 5th century, a council of leaders in Britain agreed that some land in the east of southern Britain would be given to the Saxons on the basis of a treaty, a foedus, by which the Saxons would defend the Britons against attacks from the Picts and Scoti in exchange for food supplies. The most contemporaneous textual evidence is the Chronica Gallica of 452 which records for the year 441: "The British provinces, which to this time had suffered various defeats and misfortunes, are reduced to Saxon rule." This is an earlier date than that of 451 for the "coming of the Saxons" used by Bede in his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, written around 731. It has been argued that Bede misinterpreted his (scanty) sources, and that the chronological references in the Historia Britonnum yield a plausible date of around 428. Gildas recounts how a war broke out between the Saxons and the local population – Higham calls it the "War of the Saxon Federates" – which ended shortly after the siege at 'Mons Badonicus'. The Saxons go back to "their eastern home". Gildas calls the peace a "grievous divorce with the barbarians". The price of peace, Nick Higham argues, is a better treaty for the Saxons, giving them the ability to receive tribute from people across the lowlands of Britain. The archaeological evidence agrees with this earlier timescale. In particular, the work of Catherine Hills and Sam Lucy on the evidence of Spong Hill has moved the chronology for the settlement earlier than 450, with a significant number of items now in phases before Bede's date. This vision of the Anglo-Saxons exercising extensive political and military power at an early date remains contested. The most developed vision of a continuation in sub-Roman Britain, with control over its own political and military destiny for well over a century, is that of Kenneth Dark, who suggests that the sub-Roman elite survived in culture, politics and military power up to about 570. However, Nick Higham seems to agree with Bede, who identified three phases of settlement: an exploration phase, when mercenaries came to protect the resident population; a migration phase, which was substantial as implied by the statement that Anglus was deserted; and an establishment phase, in which Anglo-Saxons started to control areas, implied in Bede's statement about the origins of the tribes. Scholars have not reached consensus on the number of migrants who entered Britain in this period. Heinrich Härke suggests that the figure is around 100,000, based on the molecular evidence. But, archaeologists such as Christine Hills and Richard Hodges suggest the number is nearer 20,000. By around 500 the Anglo-Saxon migrants were established in southern and eastern Britain. What happened to the indigenous Brittonic people is also subject to question. Heinrich Härke and Richard Coates point out that they are invisible archaeologically and linguistically. But based on a fairly high Anglo-Saxon figure (200,000) and a low Brythonic one (800,000), Brythonic people are likely to have outnumbered Anglo-Saxons by at least four to one. The interpretation of such figures is that while "culturally, the later Anglo-Saxons and English did emerge as remarkably un-British...their genetic, biological make-up is none the less likely to have been substantially, indeed predominantly, British". The development of Anglo-Saxon culture is described by two processes. One is similar to culture changes observed in Russia, North Africa and parts of the Islamic world, where a powerful minority culture becomes, over a rather short period, adopted by a settled majority. The second process is explained through incentives. Nick Higham summarized in this way: "As Bede later implied, language was a key indicator of ethnicity in early England. In circumstances where freedom at law, acceptance with the kindred, access to patronage, and the use and possession of weapons were all exclusive to those who could claim Germanic descent, then speaking Old English without Latin or Brittonic inflection had considerable value. By the middle of the 6th century, some Brythonic people in the lowlands of Britain had moved across the sea to form Brittany, and some had moved west, but the majority were abandoning their past language and culture and adopting the new culture of the Anglo-Saxons. As they adopted this language and culture, the barriers began to dissolve between peoples, who had earlier lived parallel lives. The archaeological evidence shows considerable continuity in the system of landscape and local governance, which was inherited from the indigenous community. There is evidence for a fusion of culture in this early period. Brythonic names appear in the lists of Anglo-Saxon elite. The Wessex royal line was traditionally founded by a man named Cerdic, an undoubtedly Celtic name ultimately derived from Caratacus. This may indicate that Cerdic was a native Briton, and that his dynasty became anglicized over time. A number of Cerdic's alleged descendants also possessed Celtic names, including the 'Bretwalda' Ceawlin. The last man in this dynasty to have a Brythonic name was King Caedwalla, who died as late as 689. In the last half of the 6th century, four structures contributed to the development of society; they were the position and freedoms of the ceorl, the smaller tribal areas coalescing into larger kingdoms, the elite developing from warriors to kings, and Irish monasticism developing under Finnian (who had consulted Gildas) and his pupil Columba. The Anglo-Saxon farms of this period are often falsely supposed to be "peasant farms". However, a ceorl, who was the lowest ranking freeman in early Anglo-Saxon society, was not a peasant but an arms-owning male with the support of a kindred, access to law and the wergild; situated at the apex of an extended household working at least one hide of land. The farmer had freedom and rights over lands, with provision of a rent or duty to an overlord who provided only slight lordly input. Most of this land was common outfield arable land (of an outfield-infield system) that provided individuals with the means to build a basis of kinship and group cultural ties. The Tribal Hidage lists thirty-five peoples, or tribes, with assessments in hides, which may have originally been defined as the area of land sufficient to maintain one family. The assessments in the Hidage reflect the relative size of the provinces. Although varying in size, all thirty-five peoples of the Tribal Hidage were of the same status, in that they were areas which were ruled by their own elite family (or royal houses), and so were assessed independently for payment of tribute. By the end of the sixth century, larger kingdoms had become established on the south or east coasts. They include the provinces of the Jutes of Hampshire and Wight, the South Saxons, Kent, the East Saxons, East Angles, Lindsey and (north of the Humber) Deira and Bernicia. Several of these kingdoms may have had as their initial focus a territory based on a former Roman civitas. By the end of the sixth century, the leaders of these communities were styling themselves kings, though it should not be assumed that all of them were Germanic in origin. The Bretwalda concept is taken as evidence of a number of early Anglo-Saxon elite families. What Bede seems to imply in his Bretwalda is the ability of leaders to extract tribute, overawe and/or protect the small regions, which may well have been relatively short-lived in any one instance. Ostensibly "Anglo-Saxon" dynasties variously replaced one another in this role in a discontinuous but influential and potent roll call of warrior elites. Importantly, whatever their origin or whenever they flourished, these dynasties established their claim to lordship through their links to extended kin ties. As Helen Peake jokingly points out, "they all just happened to be related back to Woden". The process from warrior to cyning – Old English for king – is described in Beowulf (as translated by Seamus Heaney): "There was Shield Sheafson, scourge of many tribes, a wrecker of mead-benches, rampaging among foes. This terror of the hall-troops had come far. A foundling to start with, he would flourish later on. As his powers waxed and his worth was proved. In the end each clan on the outlying coasts. Beyond the whale-road had to yield to him. And begin to pay tribute. That was one good king. In 565, Columba, a monk from Ireland who studied at the monastic school of Moville under St. Finnian, reached Iona as a self-imposed exile. The influence of the monastery of Iona would grow into what Peter Brown has described as an "unusually extensive spiritual empire," which "stretched from western Scotland deep to the southwest into the heart of Ireland and, to the southeast, it reached down throughout northern Britain, through the influence of its sister monastery Lindisfarne." In June 597 Columba died. At this time, Augustine landed on the Isle of Thanet and proceeded to King Aethelberht's main town of Canterbury. He had been the prior of a monastery in Rome when Pope Gregory the Great chose him in 595 to lead the Gregorian mission to Britain to Christianize the Kingdom of Kent from their native Anglo-Saxon paganism. Kent was probably chosen because Aethelberht had married a Christian princess, Bertha, daughter of Charibert I the King of Paris, who was expected to exert some influence over her husband. Aethelberht was converted to Christianity, churches were established, and wider-scale conversion to Christianity began in the kingdom. Aethelberht's law for Kent, the earliest written code in any Germanic language, instituted a complex system of fines. Kent was rich, with strong trade ties to the continent, and Aethelberht may have instituted royal control over trade. For the first time following the Anglo-Saxon invasion, coins began circulating in Kent during his reign. In 635 Aidan, an Irish monk from Iona chose the Isle of Lindisfarne to establish a monastery and close to King Oswald's main fortress of Bamburgh. He had been at the monastery in Iona when Oswald asked to be sent a mission to Christianize the Kingdom of Northumbria from their native Anglo-Saxon paganism. Oswald had probably chosen Iona because after his father had been killed he had fled into south-west Scotland and had encountered Christianity, and had returned determined to make Northumbria Christian. Aidan achieved great success in spreading the Christian faith, and since Aidan could not speak English and Oswald had learned Irish during his exile, Oswald acted as Aidan's interpreter when the latter was preaching. Later, Northumberland's patron saint, Saint Cuthbert, was an abbot of the monastery, and then Bishop of Lindisfarne. An anonymous life of Cuthbert written at Lindisfarne is the oldest extant piece of English historical writing, and in his memory a gospel (known as the St Cuthbert Gospel) was placed in his coffin. The decorated leather bookbinding is the oldest intact European binding. In 664, the Synod of Whitby was convened and established Roman practice (in style of tonsure and dates of Easter) as the norm in Northumbria, and thus "brought the Northumbrian church into the mainstream of Roman culture." The Episcopal seat of Northumbria was transferred from Lindisfarne to York. Wilfrid, chief advocate for the Roman position, later became Bishop of Northumbria, while Colmán and the Ionan supporters, who did not change their practices, withdrew to Iona. By 660 the political map of Lowland Britain had developed with smaller territories coalescing into kingdoms, from this time larger kingdoms started dominating the smaller kingdoms. The development of kingdoms, with a particular king being recognised as an overlord, developed out of an early loose structure that, Higham believes, is linked back to the original feodus. The traditional name for this period is the Heptarchy, which has not been used by scholars since the early 20th century as it gives the impression of a single political structure and does not afford the "opportunity to treat the history of any one kingdom as a whole". Simon Keynes suggests that the 8th and 9th century was period of economic and social flourishing which created stability both below the Thames and above the Humber. Many areas flourished and their influence was felt across the continent, however in between the Humber and Thames, one political entity grew in influence and power and to the East these developments in Britain attracted attention. Middle-lowland Britain was known as the place of the Mierce, the border or frontier folk, in Latin Mercia. Mercia was a diverse area of tribal groups, as shown by the Tribal Hidage; the peoples were a mixture of Brythonic speaking peoples and "Anglo-Saxon" pioneers and their early leaders had Brythonic names, such as Penda. Although Penda does not appear in Bede's list of great overlords it would appear from what Bede says elsewhere that he was dominant over the southern kingdoms. At the time of the battle of the river Winwaed, thirty duces regii (royal generals) fought on his behalf. Although there are many gaps in the evidence, it is clear that the seventh-century Mercian kings were formidable rulers who were able to exercise a wide-ranging overlordship from their Midland base. Mercian military success was the basis of their power; it succeeded not only 106 kings and kingdoms by winning set-piece battles, but by ruthlessly ravaging any area foolish enough to withhold tribute. There are a number of casual references scattered throughout the Bede's history to this aspect of Mercian military policy. Penda is found ravaging Northumbria as far north as Bamburgh and only a miraculous intervention from Aidan prevents the complete destruction of the settlement. In 676 Aethelred conducted a similar ravaging in Kent and caused such damage in the Rochester diocese that two successive bishops gave up their position because of lack of funds. In these accounts there is a rare glimpse of the realities of early Anglo-Saxon overlordship and how a widespread overlordship could be established in a relatively short period. By the middle of the 8th century, other kingdoms of southern Britain were also affected by Mercian expansionism. The East Saxons seem to have lost control of London, Middlesex and Hertfordshire to Aethelbald, although the East Saxon homelands do not seem to have been affected, and the East Saxon dynasty continued into the ninth century. The Mercian influence and reputation reached its peak when, in the late 8th century, the most powerful European ruler of the age, the Frankish king Charlemagne, recognised the Mercian King Offa's power and accordingly treated him with respect, even if this could have been just flattery. Michael Drout calls the period between about 660–793 the "Golden Age", when learning flourishes with a renaissance in classical knowledge. The growth and popularity of monasticism was not an entirely internal development, with influence from the continent shaping Anglo-Saxon monastic life. In 669 Theodore, a Greek-speaking monk originally from Tarsus in Asia Minor, arrived in Britain to become the eighth Archbishop of Canterbury. He was joined the following year by his colleague Hadrian, a Latin-speaking African by origin and former abbot of a monastery in Campania (near Naples). One of their first tasks at Canterbury was the establishment of a school; and according to Bede (writing some sixty years later), they soon "attracted a crowd of students into whose minds they daily poured the streams of wholesome learning". As evidence of their teaching, Bede reports that some of their students, who survived to his own day were as fluent in Greek and Latin as in their native language. Bede does not mention Aldhelm in this connection; but we know from a letter addressed by Aldhelm to Hadrian that he too must be numbered among their students. Aldhelm wrote in elaborate and grandiloquent and very difficult Latin, which became the dominant style for centuries. Michael Drout states "Aldhelm wrote Latin hexameters better than anyone before in England (and possibly better than anyone since, or at least up until Milton). His work showed that scholars in England, at the very edge of Europe, could be as learned and sophisticated as any writers in Europe." During this period, the wealth and power of the monasteries increased as elite families, possibly out of power, turned to monastic life. Anglo-Saxon monasticism developed the unusual institution of the "double monastery", a house of monks and a house of nuns, living next to each other, sharing a church but never mixing, and living separate lives of celibacy. These double monasteries were presided over by abbesses, some of the most powerful and influential women in Europe. Double monasteries which were built on strategic sites near rivers and coasts, accumulated immense wealth and power over multiple generations (their inheritances were not divided) and became centers of art and learning. While Aldhelm was doing his work in Malmesbury, far from him, up in the North of England, Bede was writing a large quantity of books, gaining a reputation in Europe and showing that the English could write history and theology, and do astronomical computation (for the dates of Easter, among other things). The 9th century saw the rise of Wessex, from the foundations laid by King Egbert in the first quarter of the century to the achievements of King Alfred the Great in its closing decades. The outlines of the story are told in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, though the annals represent a West Saxon point of view. On the day of Egbert's succession to the kingdom of Wessex, in 802, a Mercian ealdorman from the province of the Hwicce had crossed the border at Kempsford, with the intention of mounting a raid into northern Wiltshire; the Mercian force was met by the local ealdorman, "and the people of Wiltshire had the victory". In 829 Egbert went on, the chronicler reports, to conquer "the kingdom of the Mercians and everything south of the Humber". It was at this point that the chronicler chose to attach Egbert's name to Bede's list of seven overlords, adding that "he was the eighth king who was Bretwalda". Simon Keynes suggests Egbert's foundation of a 'bipartite' kingdom is crucial as it stretched across southern England, and it created a working alliance between the West Saxon dynasty and the rulers of the Mercians. In 860 the eastern and western parts of the southern kingdom were united by agreement between the surviving sons of King Aethelwulf, though the union was not maintained without some opposition from within the dynasty; and in the late 870s King Alfred gained the submission of the Mercians under their ruler Aethelred, who in other circumstances might have been styled a king, but who under the Alfredian regime was regarded as the 'ealdorman' of his people. The wealth of the monasteries and the success of Anglo-Saxon society attracted the attention of people from continental Europe, mostly Danes and Norwegians. Due to the plundering raids that followed, the raiders attracted the name Viking – from the Old Norse víkingr meaning an expedition – which soon became used for the raiding activity or piracy reported in western Europe. In 793, Lindisfarne was raided and while this was not the first raid of its type it was the most prominent. A year later Jarrow, the monastery where Bede wrote, was attacked; in 795 Iona; and in 804 the nunnery at Lyminge Kent was granted refuge inside the walls of Canterbury. Sometime around 800, a Reeve from Portland in Wessex was killed when he mistook some raiders for ordinary traders. Viking raids continued until in 850, then the Chronicle says: "The heathen for the first time remained over the winter". The fleet does not appear to have stayed long in England, but it started a trend which others subsequently followed. In particular, the army which arrived in 865 remained over many winters, and part of it later settled what became known as the Danelaw. This was the "Great Army", a term used by the Chronicle in England and by Adrevald of Fleury on the Continent. The invaders were able not only to exploit the feuds between and within the various kingdoms, but to appoint puppet kings, Ceolwulf in Mercia in 873, 'a foolish king's thane' (ASC), and perhaps others in Northumbria in 867 and East Anglia in 870. The third phase was an era of settlement; however, the 'Great Army' went wherever it could find the richest pickings, crossing the Channel when faced with resolute opposition, as in England in 878, or with famine, as on the Continent in 892. By this stage the Vikings were assuming ever increasing importance as catalysts of social and political change. They constituted the common enemy, making the English the more conscious of a national identity which overrode deeper distinctions; they could be perceived as an instrument of divine punishment for the people's sins, raising awareness of a collective Christian identity; and by 'conquering' the kingdoms of the East Angles, the Northumbrians and the Mercians they created a vacuum in the leadership of the English people. Danish settlement continued in Mercia in 877 and East Anglia in 879—80 and 896. The rest of the army meanwhile continued to harry and plunder on both sides of the Channel, with new recruits evidently arriving to swell its ranks, for it clearly continued to be a formidable fighting force. At first, Alfred responded by the offer of repeated tribute payments. However, after a decisive victory at Edington in 878, Alfred offered vigorous opposition. He established a chain of fortresses across the south of England, reorganized the army, "so that always half its men were at home, and half out on service, except for those men who were to garrison the burhs", and in 896 ordered a new type of craft to be built which could oppose the Viking longships in shallow coastal waters. When the Vikings returned from the Continent in 892, they found they could no longer roam the country at will, for wherever they went they were opposed by a local army. After four years, the Scandinavians therefore split up, some to settle in Northumbria and East Anglia, the remainder to try their luck again on the Continent. More important to Alfred than his military and political victories were his religion, his love of learning, and his spread of writing throughout England. Simon Keynes suggests Alfred's work laid the foundations for what really makes England unique in all of medieval Europe from around 800 until 1066. What is also unique is that we can discover some of this in Alfred's own words. Thinking about how learning and culture had fallen since the last century, he wrote: "...So completely had wisdom fallen off in England that there were very few on this side of the Humber who could understand their rituals in English, or indeed could translate a letter from Latin into English; and I believe that there were not many beyond the Humber. There were so few of them that I indeed cannot think of a single one south of the Thames when I became king." Alfred knew that literature and learning, both in English and in Latin, were very important, but the state of learning was not good when Alfred came to the throne. Alfred saw kingship as a priestly office, a shepherd for his people. One book that was particularly valuable to him was Gregory the Great's Cura Pastoralis (Pastoral Care). This is a priest's guide on how to care for people. Alfred took this book as his own guide on how to be a good king to his people; hence, a good king to Alfred increases literacy. Alfred translated this book himself and explains in the preface: "...When I had learned it I translated it into English, just as I had understood it, and as I could most meaningfully render it. And I will send one to each bishopric in my kingdom, and in each will be an Aestel worth fifty mancuses. And I command in God's name that no man may take the Aestel from the book nor the book from the church. It is unknown how long there may be such learned bishops as, thanks to God, are nearly everywhere." What is presumed to be one of these "Aestel" (the word only appears in this one text) is the gold, rock crystal and enamel Alfred Jewel, discovered in 1693, which is assumed to have been fitted with a small rod and used as a pointer when reading. Alfred provided functional patronage, linked to a social program of vernacular literacy in England, which was unprecedented. "Therefore it seems better to me, if it seems so to you, that we also translate certain books ...and bring it about ...if we have the peace, that all the youth of free men who now are in England, those who have the means that they may apply themselves to it, be set to learning, while they may not be set to any other use, until the time when they can well read English writings." This set in train a growth in charters, law, theology and learning. Alfred thus laid the foundation for the great accomplishments of the tenth century and did much to make the vernacular was more important than Latin in Anglo-Saxon culture. "I desired to live worthily as long as I lived, and to leave after my life, to the men who should come after me, the memory of me in good works." A framework for the momentous events of the 10th and 11th centuries is provided by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. However charters, law-codes and coins supply detailed information on various aspects of royal government, and the surviving works of Anglo-Latin and vernacular literature, as well as the numerous manuscripts written in the 10th century, testify in their different ways to the vitality of ecclesiastical culture. Yet as Simon Keynes suggests "it does not follow that the 10th century is better understood than more sparsely documented periods". During the course of the 10th century, the West Saxon kings extended their power first over Mercia, then into the southern Danelaw, and finally over Northumbria, thereby imposing a semblance of political unity on peoples, who nonetheless would remain conscious of their respective customs and their separate pasts. The prestige, and indeed the pretensions, of the monarchy increased, the institutions of government strengthened, and kings and their agents sought in various ways to establish social order. This process started with Edward the Elder – who with his sister, Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians, initially, charters reveal, encouraged people to purchase estates from the Danes, thereby to reassert some degree of English influence in territory which had fallen under Danish control. David Dumville suggests that Edward may have extended this policy by rewarding his supporters with grants of land in the territories newly conquered from the Danes, and that any charters issued in respect of such grants have not survived. When Athelflaed died, Mercia was absorbed by Wessex. From that point on there was no contest for the throne, so the house of Wessex became the ruling house of England. Edward the Elder was succeeded by his son Aethelstan, who Simon Keynes calls the "towering figure in the landscape of the tenth century". His victory over a coalition of his enemies – Constantine, King of the Scots, Owain ap Dyfnwal, King of the Cumbrians, and Olaf Guthfrithson, King of Dublin – at the battle of Brunanburh, celebrated by a famous poem in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, opened the way for him to be hailed as the first king of England. Aethelstan's legislation shows how the king drove his officials to do their respective duties. He was uncompromising in his insistence on respect for the law. However this legislation also reveals the persistent difficulties which confronted the king and his councilors in bringing a troublesome people under some form of control. His claim to be "king of the English" was by no means widely recognized. The situation was complex: the Hiberno-Norse rulers of Dublin still coveted their interests in the Danish kingdom of York; terms had to be made with the Scots, who had the capacity not merely to interfere in Northumbrian affairs, but also to block a line of communication between Dublin and York; and the inhabitants of northern Northumbria were considered a law unto themselves. It was only after twenty years of crucial developments following Aethelstan's death in 939 that a unified kingdom of England began to assume its familiar shape. However, the major political problem for Edmund and Eadred, who succeeded Aethelstan, remained the difficulty of subjugating the north. In 959 Edgar is said to have "succeeded to the kingdom both in Wessex and in Mercia and in Northumbria, and he was then 16 years old" (ASC, version 'B', 'C'), and is called "the Peacemaker". By the early 970s, after a decade of Edgar's 'peace', it may have seemed that the kingdom of England was indeed made whole. In his formal address to the gathering at Winchester the king urged his bishops, abbots and abbesses "to be of one mind as regards monastic usage . . . lest differing ways of observing the customs of one Rule and one country should bring their holy conversation into disrepute". Athelstan's court had been an intellectual incubator. In that court were two young men named Dunstan and Aethelwold who were made priests, supposedly at the insistence of Athelstan, right at the end of his reign in 939. Between 970 and 973 a council was held, under the Aegis of Edgar, where a set of rules were devised that would be applicable throughout England. This put all the monks and nuns in England under one set of detailed customs for the first time. In 973, Edgar received a special second, 'imperial coronation' at Bath, and from this point England was ruled by Edgar under the strong influence of Dunstan, Athelwold, and Oswald, the Bishop of Worcester. The reign of King Aethelred the Unready witnessed the resumption of Viking raids on England, putting the country and its leadership under strains as severe as they were long sustained. Raids began on a relatively small scale in the 980s, but became far more serious in the 990s, and brought the people to their knees in 1009–12, when a large part of the country was devastated by the army of Thorkell the Tall. It remained for Swein Forkbeard, king of Denmark, to conquer the kingdom of England in 1013–14, and (after Aethelred's restoration) for his son Cnut to achieve the same in 1015–16. The tale of these years incorporated in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle must be read in its own right, and set beside other material which reflects in one way or another on the conduct of government and warfare during Aethelred's reign. It is this evidence which is the basis for Simon Keynes's view that the king lacked the strength, judgement and resolve to give adequate leadership to his people in a time of grave national crisis; who soon found out that he could rely on little but the treachery of his military commanders; and who, throughout his reign, tasted nothing but the ignominy of defeat. The raids exposed tensions and weaknesses which went deep into the fabric of the late Anglo-Saxon state and it is apparent that events proceeded against a background more complex than the chronicler probably knew. It seems, for example, that the death of Bishop Aethelwold in 984 had precipitated further reaction against certain ecclesiastical interests; that by 993 the king had come to regret the error of his ways, leading to a period when the internal affairs of the kingdom appear to have prospered. The increasingly difficult times brought on by the Viking attacks are reflected in both Aelfric's and Wulfstan's works, but most notably in Wulfstan's fierce rhetoric in the Sermo Lupi ad Anglos, dated to 1014. Malcolm Godden suggests that ordinary people saw the return of the Vikings, as the imminent "expectation of the apocalypse", and this was given voice in Aelfric and Wulfstan writings, which is similar to that of Gildas and Bede. Raids were signs of God punishing his people, Aelfric refers to people adopting the customs of the Danish and exhorts people not to abandon the native customs on behalf of the Danish ones, and then requests a 'brother Edward', to try to put an end to a 'shameful habit' of drinking and eating in the outhouse, which some of the countrywomen practised at beer parties. In April 1016 Aethelred died of illness, leaving his son and successor Edmund Ironside to defend the country. The final struggles were complicated by internal dissension, and especially by the treacherous acts of Ealdorman Eadric of Mercia, who opportunistically changed sides to Cnut's party. After the defeat of the English in the battle of Assandun in October 1016, Edmund and Cnut agreed to divide the kingdom so that Edmund would rule Wessex and Cnut Mercia, but Edmund died soon after his defeat in November 1016, making it possible for Cnut to seize power over all England. In the 11th century, there were three conquests and some Anglo-Saxon people would live through it: one in the aftermath of the conquest of Cnut in 1016; the second after the unsuccessful attempt of battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066; the third after that of William of Normandy in 1066. The consequences of each conquest can only be assessed with hindsight. In 1016, no-one was to know that whatever cultural ramifications were felt then, they would be subsumed half a century later; and in 1066 there was nothing to predict that the effects of William's conquest would be any greater or more lasting than those of Cnut's. In this period and beyond the Anglo-Saxon culture is changing. Politically and chronologically, the texts of this period are not 'Anglo-Saxon'; linguistically, those written in English (as opposed to Latin or French, the other official written languages of the period) are moving away from the late West Saxon standard that is called 'Old English'. Yet neither are they 'Middle English'; moreover, as Treharne explains, for around three quarters of this period, "there is barely any 'original' writing in English at all". These factors have led to a gap in scholarship implying a discontinuity either side of the Norman Conquest, however this assumption is being challenged. At first sight, there would seem little to debate. Cnut appears to have adopted wholeheartedly the traditional role of Anglo-Saxon kingship. However an examination of the laws, homilies, wills, and charters dating from this period suggests that as a result of widespread aristocratic death and the fact that Cnut did not systematically introduce a new landholding class, major and permanent alterations occurred in the Saxon social and political structures. Eric John has remarked that for Cnut "the simple difficulty of exercising so wide and so unstable an empire made it necessary to practise a delegation of authority against every tradition of English kingship". The disappearance of the aristocratic families which had traditionally played an active role in the governance of the realm, coupled with Cnut's choice of thegnly advisors, put an end to the balanced relationship between monarchy and aristocracy so carefully forged by the West Saxon Kings. Edward became king in 1042, and given his upbringing might have been considered a Norman by those who lived across the English Channel. Following Cnut's reforms, excessive power was concentrated in the hands of the rival houses of Leofric of Mercia and Godwine of Wessex. Problems also came for Edward from the resentment caused by the king's introduction of Norman friends. A crisis arose in 1051 when Godwine defied the king's order to punish the men of Dover, who had resisted an attempt by Eustace of Boulogne to quarter his men on them by force. The support of Earl Leofric and Earl Siward enabled Edward to secure the outlawry of Godwine and his sons; and William of Normandy paid Edward a visit during which Edward may have promised William succession to the English throne, although this Norman claim may have been mere propaganda. Godwine and his sons came back the following year with a strong force, and the magnates were not prepared to engage them in civil war but forced the king to make terms. Some unpopular Normans were driven out, including Archbishop Robert, whose archbishopric was given to Stigand; this act supplied an excuse for the Papal support of William's cause. The fall of England and the Norman Conquest is a multi-generational, multi-family succession problem caused in great part by Athelred's incompetence. By the time William from Normandy, sensing an opportunity, landed his invading force in 1066, the elite of Anglo-Saxon England had changed, although much of the culture and society had stayed the same. Then came William, the Earl of Normandy, into Pevensey on the evening of St. Michael's mass, and soon as his men were ready, they built a fortress at Hasting's port. This was told to King Harold, and he gathered then a great army and come towards them at the Hoary Apple Tree, and William came upon him unawares before his folk were ready. But the king nevertheless withstood him very strongly with fighting with those men who would follow him, and there was a great slaughter on either side. Then Harald the King was slain, and Leofwine the Earl, his brother, and Gyrth, and many good men, and the Frenchmen held the place of slaughter. Following the conquest, the Anglo-Saxon nobility were either exiled or joined the ranks of the peasantry.] It has been estimated that only about 8 per cent of the land was under Anglo-Saxon control by 1087. Many Anglo-Saxon nobles fled to Scotland, Ireland, and Scandinavia. The Byzantine Empire became a popular destination for many Anglo-Saxon soldiers, as the Byzantines were in need of mercenaries. The Anglo-Saxons became the predominant element in the elite Varangian Guard, hitherto a largely North Germanic unit, from which the emperor's bodyguard was drawn and continued to serve the empire until the early 15th century. However, the population of England at home remained largely Anglo-Saxon; for them, little changed immediately except that their Anglo-Saxon lord was replaced by a Norman lord. The chronicler Orderic Vitalis (1075 – about 1142), himself the product of an Anglo-Norman marriage, wrote: "And so the English groaned aloud for their lost liberty and plotted ceaselessly to find some way of shaking off a yoke that was so intolerable and unaccustomed".] The inhabitants of the North and Scotland never warmed to the Normans following the Harrying of the North (1069–1070), where William, according to the Anglo Saxon Chronicle utterly "ravaged and laid waste that shire". Many Anglo-Saxon people needed to learn Norman French to communicate with their rulers, but it is clear that among themselves they kept speaking Old English, which meant that England was in an interesting tri-lingual situation: Anglo-Saxon for the common people, Latin for the Church, and Norman French for the administrators, the nobility, and the law courts. In this time, and due to the cultural shock of the Conquest, Anglo-Saxon began to change very rapidly, and by 1200 or so, it was no longer Anglo-Saxon English, but what scholars call early Middle English. But this language had deep roots in Anglo-Saxon, which was being spoken a lot later than 1066. Research in the early twentieth century, and still continuing today, has shown that a form of Anglo-Saxon was still being spoken, and not merely among uneducated peasants, into the thirteenth century in the West Midlands. This was J.R.R. Tolkien's major scholarly discovery when he studied a group of texts written in early Middle English called the Katherine Group, because they include the Life of St. Katherine (also, the Life of St. Margaret, the Life and the Passion of St. Juliana, Ancrene Wisse, and Hali Meithhad—these last two teaching how to be a good anchoress and arguing for the goodness of virginity). Tolkien noticed that a subtle distinction preserved in these texts indicated that Old English had continued to be spoken far longer than anyone had supposed. In Old English there is a distinction between two different kinds of verbs. The Anglo-Saxons had always been defined very closely to the language, now this language gradually changed, and although some people (like the famous scribe known as the Tremulous Hand of Worcester) could read Old English in the thirteenth century. Soon afterwards, it became impossible for people to read Old English, and the texts became useless. The precious Exeter Book, for example, seems to have been used to press gold leaf and at one point had a pot of fish-based glue sitting on top of it. For Michael Drout this symbolizes the end of the Anglo-Saxons.[Wikipedia]. THE ANGLO-SAXONS: The Saxons were a Germanic tribe that originally occupied the region which today is the North Sea coast of the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. Their name is derived from the seax, a distinct knife popularly used by the tribe. One of the earliest historical records of this group that we know of comes from Roman writers dealing with the many troubles that affected the northern frontier of the Roman Empire during the second and third century A.D. It is possible that under the "Saxons" label, these early Roman accounts also included other neighboring Germanic groups in the regions such as the Angles, the Frisians, and the Jutes; all these groups spoke closely related West Germanic languages that in time would evolve into Old English. Since the Saxons were illiterate, most of what we know about them comes from reports of a handful of writers (mostly bishops and monks) and also from archaeological research. The Saxons were among the "barbarian" nations that would engage against Rome during late antiquity, putting an end to the dying imperial order in the western realm of Rome, reshaping the map, and renaming the nations of Europe. South of the territory where the Saxons lived on the continent were the Franks, a strong Germanic confederacy that had a solid presence occupying a territory between the Saxons and the Roman frontier. For this reason, expanding southwards was a problematic option for the Saxons, and a sea expansion was a more suitable alternative. Late in the third century A.D., Frankish raiders joined the Saxons in the southern part of the North Sea and the English Channel. They preyed on shipping lanes and also raided the coast of Britain and Gaul. These attacks on Roman Britain during the late third century A.D. forced the authorities to build a network of forts with thick stone walls at coastal locations to repel these attacks, and the south coast of England became known as the Saxon Shore frontier. Generally located next to important harbors and river mouths, these forts not only served as strategic defenses against the raiders, but also as a means of securing the collection and distribution of state supplies. Carausius, a Menapian commander of Roman legions under the future emperor Maximian, was given the task of eliminating the Frankish and Saxon pirates in 285 A.D. His mission was very successful and, by 286 A.D., he had broken the pirate's power at sea. He was accused, however, of being in league with the pirates and keeping their plunder for himself and so was condemned to death by order of Maximian (who was then emperor of Rome). Rather than submit to what he saw as unjust charges, he declared himself emperor of an independent Britain and reigned until 293 A.D., when he was killed in battle and rule from Rome was restored. On the continent, meanwhile, the Saxon confederacy started to break up during the 4th century A.D. with an increasing number of Saxons (along with other Germanic groups such as the Angles) moving into Britain, while others remained in continental Europe. Around this time, we have official Roman records attesting to more Saxon raids in southeast Britain (Ammianus Marcellinus: 26, 4). Saxon soldiers had previously been employed by the Romans as legionnaires in Britain, and the conflict between Carausius and Maximian may have encouraged those who had served to leave the area around the Elbe and relocate to an independent Britain under Carausius' reign. Even after Carausius' death, however, Saxon migration to Britain continued (often characterized by writers of that time as an invasion). The southeast coast of Britain was not the only place affected by Saxon incursions. Not long after the death of Emperor Constantine (337 A.D.), the northern frontiers of Rome in continental Europe were also suffering the incursion of several “barbarian” groups, including the Saxons. The Roman historian Zosimus offers a summary of the challenges that Constantius, the Roman emperor who came after Constantine, had to face during the 350s A.D., in which the Saxons are mentioned as one of the many military threats hanging upon Rome. But perceiving [Constantius] all the Roman territories to be infested by the incursions of the Barbarians, and that the Franks, the Alemanni, and the Saxons had not only possessed themselves of forty cities near the Rhine, but had likewise ruined and destroyed them, by carrying off an immense number of the inhabitants, and a proportionate quantity of spoils; [...] he scarcely thought himself capable of managing affairs at this critical period (Zosimus: Book 3, 1). Early in the 5th century A.D., Roman control in Britain was waning, and most of Rome's military resources were allocated to the struggles in continental Europe. The Roman army withdrew from Britain completely in 410 A.D., and the occupied land was left in the hands of the Romanized Britons. The territory was divided into several small warring groups, both indigenous and invaders, fighting for political control. In the midst of this social and political strife, more Saxons migrated into Britain, expanding their territory and establishing a number of kingdoms which can be identified by the fact that most of their names contain the suffix "sex" (e.g. Sussex, Wessex). Ancient sources provide different versions of how exactly the Saxons arrived in Britain and how they expanded. Three major works concerned with the Saxons in Britain have survived to the present day: the De Excidio Britanniae, written by Gildas; the Historia Ecclesiastica, by Bede and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a narrative with multiple authors. According to Bede, the famous British monk who lived in the early Middle Ages, the Britons were suffering attacks from the Scots and the Picts, so they decided to hire some of the Saxons as mercenaries to fight their enemies. After completing their task, the Saxons turned against the Britons. Gildas, a 6th century A.D. British monk, describes the Saxons as savages similar to dogs and lions, and he adds that "nothing more destructive, nothing more bitter has ever befallen the land". Gildas saw the destructive advance of the Saxons as a form of punishment inflicted by God for the sins of the British, whom he compares with the Israelites of the Bible: "The people of the Angles or Saxons were conveyed to Britain in three long-ships. When their voyage proved a success, news of them was carried back home. A stronger army set out which, joined to the earlier ones, first of all drove away the enemy they were seeking [the Picts and Scots]. Then they turned their arms on their allies [the Britons], and subjugated almost the whole island by fire or sword, from the eastern shore as far as the western one on the trumped-up excuse that the Britons had given them a less than adequate stipend for their military services (The Greater Chronicle, cited by Higham and Ryan)." In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle we read about the Saxons moving into Britain as successive "arrivals" by sea, under different leaders, and establishing small kingdoms in different areas of Britain: Hengest in 449 A.D., leading a force of three ships, ruling over Kent; Ælle in 477 A.D., leading a force of three ships, ruling over Sussex; and Cerdic, the founding figure of the West Saxon dynasty, leading a squadron of five ships and arriving in Britain in 495 A.D. Cerdic is the most famous of the Saxon kings, reigning from 519-534 A.D. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle's entry for 519 A.D. states: "In this year Cerdic and Cynric obtained the kingdom of the West Saxons, and the same year they fought against the Britons at a place now called Cerdices-ford. And from that day on the princes of the West Saxons have reigned." He is said to have fought "the renowned King Arthur" in 520 A.D., but that date may actually be off by one year, and the battle with Arthur took place in 519 A.D. Historian Robert J. Sewell notes that, "Cerdic met great resistance from the last of the Romano-Britons under a shadowy leader who lays as good a claim as any to having been the 'real' King Arthur". Cerdic either won the battle or declared a truce and was given the land by the Briton king identified with Arthur but, either way, he founded the kingdom of the West Saxons, Wessex, in Britain. While the date of 519 A.D. is cited in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles for the beginning of his reign, a date as late as 532 A.D. is suggested by other sources. In 530 A.D. Cerdic conquered the Isle of Wight, employing his already established army and navy; he died two years later in 534 A.D. The earlier date, then, makes more sense than the later one in the narrative of Cerdic's life. The chaotic nature of the time, and conflicting accounts from different sources, quite often create very different narratives which have been followed, or combined, by later writers. In the past, these traditional accounts were taken at face value, with writers rejecting one narrative in favor of another or combining two or more. Victorian writers accepted the "arrival" stories reported in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as historical truth, which they then modified to fit their own narrative ends. Because these older narratives often contradicted each other, later writers tried to blend them into seamless stories which provided them with a linear history of their past. This is how one may today read two very different accounts of the history of Britain which both claim to be the truth and both of which can point to older narratives for support of that claim. One must keep in mind the different versions and interpretations of the so-called "Saxon Invasions" when reading these various sources. An example of this problem is the claim that the Saxons were hired by the Romans to fight in Britain. Since Rome at the time lacked troops in Britain, the account of the Saxons employed as mercenaries seems plausible: the Romanized Britons decided to hire barbarians as mercenaries for security reasons, which was a common Roman practice. Rather than reflecting mass migration, archaeological evidence of Saxon presence before 450 A.D. is very weak, which is consistent with the military conquest stated in the ancient accounts: as field army of the Britons, the number of Saxons could not have been initially more than a few thousand. The Gallic Chronicle of 452 A.D., talks about the Saxons ruling over a large part of Southern Britain, also consistent with the rise of the number of Saxon archaeological material after 450 A.D. The earliest Anglo-Saxon burial in Britain has been dated by archaeologists to no later than 425-450 A.D. The burial practices of the Saxons (and the Germanic tribes in general) were markedly different from indigenous burials in Britain. North German cremation ritual was introduced into eastern England, but Germanic people gradually abandoned cremation in favor of inhumation, burying their dead with grave goods, a custom that was in place until about 700 A.D.; by the late 6th century A.D., furnished inhumation dominates the Saxon disposal of the dead. Saxon burials did not develop from past indigenous practices; instead, they are connected to burials found on the other side of the North Sea. Late Roman burials in Britain had been largely unfurnished inhumations but, by the late 4th century A.D., we see the emergence of inhumations accompanied by weapons and belt fittings, often interpreted as the burials of Germanic mercenary soldiers, resembling other burials found in northern Gaul and other areas occupied by Germanic tribes. These burials relate to the development of Anglo and Saxon burial rites detected between the 5th and 7th centuries A.D.: inhumation burials where men were usually buried with weapons, while women were buried with combs, brooches, and necklaces. It is clear both from historical sources and archaeological data that by the end of the 5th century A.D., southeast Britain was under the control of various Saxon groups. The spread of Saxon burial practices over places where only indigenous burials were previously recorded reflects the spread of the Saxons displacing indigenous Roman and Celtic groups. During the 5th century A.D., there are recorded hostilities between the Franks and the Saxons in continental Europe. Under the leadership of Childeric, the Franks supported Roman forces and helped them defeat a number of enemies including an army of Saxons at Angers in 469 A.D. The Franks began a gradual process of absorption of the continental Saxons and, while this process was still ongoing during the 8th century A.D., those Saxons who migrated into Britain managed to build a solid presence. After several generations of conquest, alliances, and unstable successions, they established their rule over most of the indigenous groups. After the 9th century A.D. Viking invasions, the kings of Wessex (Alfred and his descendants) created the first strong West Saxon kingdom (south of the Thames) which, during the 10th century A.D., managed to conquer the rest of England creating the late Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Britain was the only place in Europe that saw the formation of new states that had little in common with Roman principles. All nascent states in continental Europe that emerged after the decline of the Roman order were created on Roman foundations, sometimes with a clear Roman involvement or even retaining key aspects of Roman life. This was not the case with the Saxons who entered Britain and who were less familiar with the Roman ways. The movement of the Saxons and the Angles into Britain was a critical stage in the overall development of the English language. If these Germanic tribes did not move into Britain, the English language as we know it would not exist today, and the dialects of the Angles and Saxons would have been gradually dissolved in the continental Germanic languages, possibly blended into the Low German and Dutch dialects. As they expanded across Britain, these Germanic groups displaced the local Celtic speaking communities. Old English, the language born of the Angles and the Saxons who entered Britain, gradually displaced the Latin and Brittonic languages across lowland Britain, and from there it eventually gained ascendency over most of the British Isles. [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. SHIPPING & RETURNS/REFUNDS: We always ship books domestically (within the USA) via USPS INSURED media mail (“book rate”). Most international orders cost an additional $17.99 to $48.99 for an insured shipment in a heavily padded mailer. There is also a discount program which can cut postage costs by 50% to 75% if you’re buying about half-a-dozen books or more (5 kilos+). Our postage charges are as reasonable as USPS rates allow. ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per book (for each additional book after the first) so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers. All of our shipments are fully insured against loss, and our shipping rates include the cost of this coverage (through stamps.com, Shipsaver.com, the USPS, UPS, or Fed-Ex). 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Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price; 1) less our original shipping/insurance costs, 2) less non-refundable eBay payment processing fees. Please note that eBay does NOT refund payment processing fees. Even if you “accidentally” purchase something and then cancel the purchase before it is shipped, eBay will not refund their processing fees. So all refunds for any reason, without exception, do not include eBay payment processing fees (typically between 5% and 15%) and shipping/insurance costs (if any). If you’re unhappy with eBay’s “no fee refund” policy, and we are EXTREMELY unhappy, please voice your displeasure by contacting eBay. We have no ability to influence, modify or waive eBay policies. ABOUT US: Prior to our retirement we used to travel to Eastern Europe and Central Asia several times a year seeking antique gemstones and jewelry from the globe’s most prolific gemstone producing and cutting centers. Most of the items we offer came from acquisitions we made in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) during these years from various institutions and dealers. Much of what we generate on Etsy, Amazon and Ebay goes to support worthy institutions in Europe and Asia connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. Though we have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, our primary interests are ancient/antique jewelry and gemstones, a reflection of our academic backgrounds. Though perhaps difficult to find in the USA, in Eastern Europe and Central Asia antique gemstones are commonly dismounted from old, broken settings – the gold reused – the gemstones recut and reset. Before these gorgeous antique gemstones are recut, we try to acquire the best of them in their original, antique, hand-finished state – most of them originally crafted a century or more ago. We believe that the work created by these long-gone master artisans is worth protecting and preserving rather than destroying this heritage of antique gemstones by recutting the original work out of existence. That by preserving their work, in a sense, we are preserving their lives and the legacy they left for modern times. Far better to appreciate their craft than to destroy it with modern cutting. Not everyone agrees – fully 95% or more of the antique gemstones which come into these marketplaces are recut, and the heritage of the past lost. But if you agree with us that the past is worth protecting, and that past lives and the produce of those lives still matters today, consider buying an antique, hand cut, natural gemstone rather than one of the mass-produced machine cut (often synthetic or “lab produced”) gemstones which dominate the market today. We can set most any antique gemstone you purchase from us in your choice of styles and metals ranging from rings to pendants to earrings and bracelets; in sterling silver, 14kt solid gold, and 14kt gold fill. When you purchase from us, you can count on quick shipping and careful, secure packaging. We would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from us. There is a $3 fee for mailing under separate cover. I will always respond to every inquiry whether via email or eBay message, so please feel free to write. Condition: BRAND NEW. See detailed condition description below., Publisher: British Museum (2012), Format: Oversized softcover, Length: 64 pages, Dimensions: 8 x 5¾ inches

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