KENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY  -- RESEARCH   Studying and sharing Kent's past      Homepage

     Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 5  1863  page 318

By JOHN BRENT, JUN., F.S.A.  continued

Saxon graves, though seldom mounted. Bryan Faussett found one at Kingston ;1 one from Chartham Down was in the collection of Sir William Fagg; and the late Lord Londesborough took a perforated crystal from a barrow on Breach Down. They were prized and preserved by the Romans also, and have been found in their sepulchral deposits.
   Their object is not very apparent. The suspending bands and rings of this and of Douglas’s specimen imply their use as ornamental appendages, although the size and weight of the former suggests a certain awkwardness and inconvenience, were such a decoration to swing from a lady’s waist or girdle. The greater number, however, of such crystals have no suspending rings nor bands. Did they indicate an office or profession in their possessors? or, as Douglas suggests, were they connected with magical rites or superstitious practices? We know so little of the inner life and of the religious forms of the early Saxon tribes, that we cannot satisfactorily decide this point. Unquestionably a

  vast amount of superstition pervaded the northern nations even after the introduction of Christianity, —a longing after some
   the rings of the three other specimens, constructed to extend or contract, evidently to fit the wrist or arm; and the position of the crystal in the grave, between the thigh-bones, well bears out the idea that it was attached as an ornament to the wrist at the time of burial,- most probably to the left wrist, to correspond to the more costly, but less cumbrous, gold ornament found, as seems natural, on the right. It is objected that some of these crystal balls, not being mounted, could not have been used as personal ornaments; but it does not seem difficult to suppose a mounting of some perishable material, as leather or wood. The shears, it will be seen, lay in the grave close to the comb, a portion of which still adheres to them ; and this juxtaposition does not lead us to believe that they could be anything but an ordinary domestic implement. May not the spoon also have been an article of the toilet, for sprinkling scent, or some such use? The glass vessels are invariably of the pointed shape, which is believed to be that of the drinking-cup, or "tumbler," and when found in women’s graves, as here, seem to shew that even ladies were not exempted from the custom of draining their glasses at a draught.- T.G.F.]
1. ‘ Inventorium Sepulchrale,’ p. 42.

Page 318  (This page prepared for the Website by Christine Pantrey)             

Previous page    Back to Page and Plate listings   Next page

For details about the advantages of membership of the Kent Archaeological Society   click here

Back the Contents page   Back to Arch. Cant. List   Back to Publications On-line    Back to Research Page     Back to Homepage

Kent Archaeological Society is a registered charity number 223382
© Kent Archaeological Society 2002

This website is constructed by enthusiastic amateurs. Any errors noticed by other researchers will be to gratefully received so
that we can amend our pages to give as accurate a record as possible. Please send details too