Decoding Anglo-Saxon art

28 May

British Museum blog

silver-gilt brooch detailRosie Weetch, curator and Craig Williams, illustrator, British Museum

One of the most enjoyable things about working with the British Museum’s Anglo-Saxon collection is having the opportunity to study the intricate designs of the many brooches, buckles, and other pieces of decorative metalwork. This is because in Anglo-Saxon art there is always more than meets the eye.

The objects invite careful contemplation, and you can find yourself spending hours puzzling over their designs, finding new beasts and images. The dense animal patterns that cover many Anglo-Saxon objects are not just pretty decoration; they have multi-layered symbolic meanings and tell stories. Anglo-Saxons, who had a love of riddles and puzzles of all kinds, would have been able to ‘read’ the stories embedded in the decoration. But for us it is trickier as we are not fluent in the language of Anglo-Saxon art.

Anglo-Saxon art went through many changes between the 5th…

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Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Uncategorized


3 responses to “Decoding Anglo-Saxon art

  1. dorannrule

    May 28, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Now I shall be looking ever more carefully at hidden images in art!


  2. Silver in the Barn

    May 28, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    So much symbolism in ancient and medieval times. Interesting they say you could “read” the decorations. Ahhh, if only you know the language!


  3. Jacqueline.A

    June 9, 2014 at 9:54 am

    I guess Anglo-Saxon has a lot to convey! It has more symbolic connotations and hidden meaning than just direct charm and beautiful. Very interesting 🙂



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