Room 41 of the British Museum has been closed for a long spell whilst it was redecorated and a new permanent display brought in. The now reopened gallery houses what is surely the finest collection of Anglo-Saxon artifacts anywhere as well as the most prestigious items from the famous Sutton Hoo burial of King Redwald of East Anglia. Last week I was at the London Book fair but took the opportunity to visit and take some images.
Pride of place goes to this helmet. It belonged to King Redwald and was buried with him around 626 AD. It is one of only 4 helmets that survive from the Anglo-Saxon period – a reminder that what we know of these people is based often on limited records or finds.
The Franks Casket was made around AD 700 in Northumbria. It contains scenes in which the fairly new Christian Faith and the older Pagan tradition were side by side -as the people tried to maintain the best of both worlds. It also shows many runes and is one of the examples of evidence we can turn to to show what the Early Anglo-Saxons believed and how they wrote.
Along side these magnificent artifacts are more mundane but sometimes more striking pieces. Examples of grave goods are show.
This cabinet shows typical artifacts found in female graves. Examples include bone or clay weaving equipment like loom weights and whorls and iron batterns. Also shown is a needle box.
There are many replica items and reconstructed artifacts and example being this shield: