Cruciform Brooches with strange bestial visages from the 5th and 6th century have long been associated with the Angles, a people from Southern Denmark. New research shows that the brooches were not ancient and imported heirlooms. Rather, they played a part in the formation of the post-migration Anglian identity
Cruciform brooches were large and decorative items of jewellery, frequently used to pin together women’s garments in pre-Christian northwest Europe. Characterised by the strange bestial visages that project from the feet of these dress fasteners, cruciform brooches were especially common in eastern England during the 5th and 6th centuries AD. For this reason, archaeologists have long associated them with those shadowy originators of the English: the Angles of the Migration period. This book provides a multifaceted, holistic and contextual analysis of more than 2,000 Anglo-Saxon cruciform brooches to offer a critical examination of identity in Early Medieval society, suggesting that the idea of being Anglian in post-Roman Britain was not a primordial, tribal identity transplanted from northern Germany, but was at least partly forged through the repeated, prevalent use of dress and material culture. Additionally, the particular women that were buried with cruciform brooches, and indeed their very funerals, played an important role in the process. These ideas are explored through a new typology and an updated chronology for cruciform brooches, alongside considerations of their production, exchange and use, as well as an examination of their geographical distribution through time and their most common archaeological contexts: the inhumation and cremation cemeteries of early Anglo-Saxon England.
1 The Anglian Brooch par excellence
2 A New Typology for Cruciform Brooches
3 Building a Chronological Framework
4 Cycles of Exchange and Production
5 Migrants, Angles and Petty Kings
6 Bearers of Tradition
7 Cruciform Brooches, Anglo-Saxon England and Beyond
8 Appendix 1: Cruciform Brooches by Type
9 Appendix 2: Cruciform Brooches by Location
10 Appendix 3: A Guide to Fragment Classification
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr Toby Martin is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Archaeology, Oxford University.