Image and Power in the Early Saxon Period

Märit Gaimster

in The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199212149
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 Image and Power in the Early Saxon Period

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This article reports that artefacts, their ornament and imagery are powerful markers of ideology and politics. It also demonstrates how the metalwork can be deconstructed and read in terms of displayed belief. Style I decorated objects and gold bracteates are known from many regions in northern and Western Europe, with the largest concentration of finds outside Scandinavia from Anglo-Saxon England. Gold bracteates show the adoption of new ways of expressing social and political power through symbolic objects. The spectacular finds from Gudme and Cologne reveal something of the symbolic meaning of necklaces and the social position of the women who wore them. The necklaces were not a simple display of wealth, but embodied a complex sphere of religious, political, and ideological messages. The imagery of seventh-century decorated metalwork has played a marginal role in discussions of power and regional organization.

Keywords: artefacts; political power; social power; metalwork; gold bracteates; decorated objects; Anglo-Saxon England

Article.  9926 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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