Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Gold is lost in the ground..."

The quote above is from one of the interior stories in Storyteller, and is meant to emphasize the transient nature of physical treasure as opposed to the "undying fame" a bard's praise could give. Fortunately for the researcher, however, not all gold that is lost in the ground stays there. The British Museum has a good bit of it, and thanks to their Compass feature, you can view many of these treasures without leaving your chair.

Want to know what sort of belt buckles Anglo-Saxon kings were wearing in the 6th and 7th centuries? The Taplow and Sutton Hoo burial mound sites can show you. How about the purse that went on that belt? Or some of the money that may have gone into the purse? Talk about conspicuous consumption - the Anglo-Saxons were into it in a big way!

The tendency of people throughout the ages to hide something away for later has definitely made the archeologists' job easier. I particulary like coin hoards myself. In early Britain these range from Iron age gold, through Iceni silver of Queen Boudicca's time, to early and later Romano-British hoards, to Anglo-Saxon silver.

The one thing you won't find in the British Museum, or in the National Museum of Wales either, is Welsh coins. Unlike some south British tribes before the Romans arrived, the people in what was to become Wales never got in the habit of striking coinage. As to what they used instead - well, that's another post.

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