Work on the West Stow Small Finds digitisation project has highlighted the attention paid to small details in Anglo-Saxon life.
Among the objects that have been repacked and documented over the past three months, thanks to a Small Grant from SHARE Museums East, there are a number which are intricately decorated. This decoration does not only occur on larger or ornate items, such as cruciform brooches, but also on very small objects or everyday items.
The beads found on site show the diversity of colour and decoration enjoyed by the Anglo-Saxons during their occupation of the site; simple stamped metal decoration sits alongside detailed blue and white designs, tiny beads of bright yellow, and beautiful selections of blue glass beads.
Likewise, a selection of bone needles shows not only the practical objects that were used, but the focus on decorating even these; a small fragment of a bone needle (pictured) shows small carved decoration of three dots on each side. These objects were not only to be used, they were to look good as well.
Along with the objects on view in the Anglo-Saxon Museum, these pieces of history help to show us that the ‘Dark Ages’ were not as dark as some would suppose – they were full of art, design, and intricacy, with people using toiletry sets, wearing clothes dyed in blues, reds, and yellows, and decorating even small objects.
Volunteers continue to inventory and document the Small Finds, to enable an electronic catalogue to be completed to improve access for researchers and increase exhibition potential.
To see other objects excavated from the site, come down to West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village and check out the museum – open daily 9-5.