Heritage100

Saxon pendant

Saxon pendant

The grave belonged to a young woman, aged 16-20 years.

This pendant comes from a grave excavated on the site of the St Mary’s Football Stadium, in advance of its opening in 2001.

The grave belonged to a young woman, aged 16-20 years. She must have been of high status because of the quality of the objects buried with her. This pendant was part of a necklace she was wearing, and is made of gold with inlaid garnets.

The cemetery is dated to about 700AD. This Saxon cemetery was not excavated in its entirety as some of it lay under the new pitch, and was at a sufficiently deep level that it would not be disturbed by the new works.

When the season began, the Saints suffered some embarrassingly poor results. These were blamed on the Saxon graves lying underneath the pitch and retribution from the troubled spirits below who were obviously not Southampton fans.

Therefore, a white witch was called in, and publicly performed an exorcism ceremony on the pitch. Unfortunately for the Saints, this did not really help and it wasn’t until much later that changes in manager and chief exec brought about the desired changes in fortune.

Quick Facts

  • Made of gold and inlaid garnets
  • Date made about AD650
  • Accession number SOU1019.507
  • Found during excavations on the site of St Mary's Football Stadium, Southampton
  • Date found 1998-2000
  • Dimensions Height 36mm, Width 34mm, Thickness 4mm

Facts

  • The gold pendant was found in the neck area, with a large silver intaglio ring and two glass beads, probably forming a necklace. An iron buckle was found in the chest area. 
  • The pendant is made from a gold disc surmounted by a ribbed suspension loop, tapering on the reverse side and soldered to the back of the disc. In the centre are two concentric circles of flat garnets around a circular bossed ‘cabochon’ garnet with a slightly flattened top. The garnets are fitted into gold cells, set above sheets of cross‐hatched gold foil. The outer sector of the disc is divided into four panels, and inside each is a series of discontinuous triple beaded filigree wires which form interlaced snakes, each with a head identifiable only by the arching of the outer wire. The back is plain. In good condition with some signs of wear.
  • Pendants are not unusual in 7th century graves in England, although only 19 other gold ones are known. The garnets in this pendant are unevenly cut suggesting they have been recycled, i.e. reset from another piece.
  • We cannot claim that the pendant was the work of a particular goldsmith in the Solent/Sussex area, but it is possible. It could have been made in Kent or by a Kentish‐trained goldsmith, though some features are not Kentish. A Frisian connection is also possible.

Did you know?

The grave from which the pendant was excavated lies beneath what is now the West Stand of the St Mary's stadium.

Gallery

Reverse of the Saxon pendant

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