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Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

 

Silver bracelet
Early Medieval
Barrington, England
Z 21370


"Don’t be fooled by the impressive label - this bracelet is not from Sandy, Bedfordshire. For the last 100 years it has been misidentified. Thanks to a Victorian illustration and the Stores Move project, it has now been reunited with finds from an Early Medieval cemetery in Barrington."

Imogen Gunn


Pay No Attention To This Label

The village of Barrington has an excellent pub, some lovely houses, and the distinction of having two Early Medieval cemeteries within the village boundaries. Both these cemeteries were excavated in the 19th century: the first, known as Edix Hill, in 1860-1861, and the second, known as Hooper's Field, in 1880. Since MAA did not yet exist, the artefacts took a long and winding route before finally ending up at the museum, decades later and from a variety of donors. That long road, coupled with the existence of two Barrington cemeteries, meant that by the time the objects arrived at MAA it was often not clear which came from which site. Some, like this bracelet, were incorrectly linked to a site in a completely different country!

Museum professionals who work with collections excavated in previous centuries often come across this type of problem. Wherever possible, it is important that we reunite artefacts with their original context, both as a mark of respect for the individual with whom they were buried and to allow modern researchers to correctly interpret the objects. Fortunately, much like a detective, we can search out clues to try to reunite objects with their correct context. In this case, I used photographs taken by the Stores Move Team, illustrations published by the excavator in 1864 and an understanding of the bracelet's donation history to correctly identify it.

Bracelets such as this are not very common finds in Early Medieval cemeteries, and yet Edix Hill has produced many more examples than elsewhere in the country. Archaeologists who re-excavated Edix Hill in the late 1980s and early 1990s remarked on the large number of silver bracelets they found, but the reason why remains a mystery to which we can now add one more example.

Explore this object further:

https://collections.maa.cam.ac.uk/objects/430418

Explore the full collections database:

https://collections.maa.cam.ac.uk


Imogen Gunn - Collections Manager for Archaeology

Imogen Gunn (BA, MPhil) has a background in Archaeological Heritage and Museums.

Her current research interests are in the history of collecting and display, women collectors, and audience evaluation and engagement.

Please contact her with enquiries regarding the archaeology collections.

Two million years of human history. One million artefacts. Countless astonishing stories.