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Museum Monday: Elham Pendant

Submitted by Jacob Scott on 31 October 2023

KAS Curator Andy Ward shares the incredible Elham Pendant.


Posted 23rd October 2023


It's #MuseumMonday and given that our temporary exhibition at Maidstone Museum will be coming to a close in less than two months (to allow for the installation of the new Lives in Our Landscape Gallery), Curator Andy Ward shares some highlight posts of the objects in our exhibition cases.

First up is the beautiful Elham Pendant, discovered by metal detectorist David Haigh. The cross is incomplete and was probably cut up before it entered the ground (like items in the Staffordshire Hoard). It is thought to date to the first half of the seventh century, not long after St Augustine first arrived in Kent in AD 597. It is likely to have been owned by a woman of high status, many of whom embraced and encouraged the adoption of Christianity in the seventh century.

The fragments of the Elham Pendant.
Photo of cross from Portable Antiquities Scheme website, copyright Kent County Council (PAS Number KENT-9D33EB).

The digital reconstruction below (by University of Kent's Lloyd Bosworth shows how this pendant may have been worn by its owner.

Digital reconstruction of the Elham Pendant.
Digital reconstruction of cross as it might have been worn as part of a composite necklace. Credit: Lloyd Bosworth, reproduced under Creative Commons Licence 4.0.

The central garnet demonstrates to us how precious gems and metals were being recycled in the Anglo-Saxon period with the garnet likely dating to before the middle of the 6th Century AD. This type of circular cut garnet is not used much after that point.