The images you'll see as you scroll down to the current text are all part of the story telling in my novel, Realms of Gold:Ritual to Romance.

Bianca Caldwell, pen name, Bianca Fiore, is a writer for an art magazine. In each of her monthly stories she describes an object used in ancient ritual.

Treasures from Sutton Hoo: Shoulder clasp

 Shoulder Clasp - to hold a cape together

The undisturbed grave goods were buried in a huge clinker-built ship some eighty feet long with provision for forty oarsmen. The ship and its contents were buried under a large mound of earth in a royal cemetery containing at least eighteen other mounds of various sizes. The astonishing treasure of 'royal regalia', weaponry, and objects of everyday use gives an important insight into Anglo-Saxon life at the beginning of the 7th Century. If it had not been for Sutton Hoo we would not be able to realise the incredible wealth, power, influence and connections of 7th Century kings in England.

Treasures of Sutton Hoo: Burial Ship

Archaeologists work at the Sutton Hoo site: Painstaking excavations of the burial ship led to the rewriting of Anglo-Saxon history as it emerged that craftsmen from the era were much more advanced than thought

The original length of the largest boat-burial mound at Sutton Hoo was significantly reduced as a result of extensive ploughing over the centuries, and reduced even further when a medieval trackway cut through the site. Archaeological evidence revealed that the 17th century robbers had actually tunneled into the mound on several occasions into what they believed was the center of the mound, though amazingly enough – they had missed the tomb altogether due to the rather (but fortunately for us and history) dramatic alteration in both the size and shape of the mound.

Gold Roman Solidus coin of Julius Nepus 473 - 5 AD from Sutton Hoo.

Treasures from Sutton Hoo: Raedwald Helmet

Around 624 or 625, Raedwald, the High King of the East Angles, must have died, although we have no written evidence for this. After the battle on the River Idle, Bede gives Raedwald no further space.

Raedwald was the greatest of the Wuffinga kings, and it is generally accepted that he was buried in a pagan ship burial at Sutton Hoo, in great splendour.

This ceremonial helmet is one of the most important finds from Sutton Hoo.

Replica of the helmet from the Sutton Hoo

During the early 1930's Edith Pretty a landowner in Suffolk reported that she had seen ghostlike figures of Saxon warriors dancing on mounds near her home. She was so taken aback by her supernatural encounter (which she believed to be an ‘omen’ or ‘sign’) she decided to sponsor a thorough archaeological investigation of the area.

In May 1939 Basil Brown the leading archaeologist from Ipswich Corporation Museum and his team were authorized to carry out the work on mound one.

What followed next as a result of these excavations was the discovery of the Sutton Hoo ship burial containing many precious items of outstanding beauty and craftsmanship. This collection of priceless Anglo-Saxon artifacts has become Britain’s favorite national treasure.

 The shield-fittings reassembled

Treasures from Sutton Hoo

Burial chamber of the Sutton Hoo ship-burial 1, England. Reconstruction

Sutton Hoo is one of England’s most significant archaeological sites. The 30-metre long ship was found buried undisturbed under one of many mysterious mounds at the site. It was found to contain a burial chamber housing a rich collection of finds.

As well as the purse lid the finds included helmets, spears, a sword, lyre and drinking horns. A set of shoulder clasps match the workmanship of the purse lid and were probably made by the same craftsman.

Although no body was found it is likely to be the burial site of King Raedwald, who ruled from around 599-624 AD and is credited as being one of the first English leaders to be converted to Christianity.

The finds changed the way historians thought about Anglo-Saxon society and showed it to be more advanced than previously thought.

A collection of rare 7th century gold Merovingian coin issues from the Sutton Hoo king's purse, most examples in this collection were produced at different Frankish mints.

Celtic Gold: Torques

The quality and type of metal, whether gold, silver, iron, or bronze seems to have had significance not only to mark the social and economic class of the wearer, but also in symbolic and magical ways. Silver, long associated with the moon, was the most commonly used metal for Celtic torques and bracelets. Gold, very rare and precious in the centuries BCE, was reserved for not only the wealthiest members of society, but also the most powerful in a spiritual sense. Gold, due to its luster and color, has long been associated with the sun, and by extension, the vitality of the life force itself.

Gold Celtic torc with three "balusters" and decoration including animals, found in Glauberg, Germany, 400 BC

The Newark Torc discovered near Newark, Nottinghamshire, in Coritani territory, and probably worn by a Coritani prince or king between 100-50 BC

Evidence points to the evolution of Celtic bracelets from unique, ornate, and symbolically powerful items called “torques.” Torques were crafted most often from silver or gold. They were perfectly circular and probably fit fairly tightly around the neck of warriors, priests, and noblewomen. As elaborate status symbols, torques were thought to contain the power to ward off the curses of enemies and maleficent sorcerers, as well as to provide protection and courage during battle. Torques symbolically represented essential aspects of a Celt’s relationship to his community and the universe as a whole.  Read more

 Celtic Neck Ring Gold Made 500-300 BCE, Metropolitan Museum of Art 

More on The Snettisham Hoard

The Snettisham Hoard, Iron Age, c. 75 BCE, Ken Hill, Snettisham, Norfolk, England. The crown jewels of Norfolk of over 2000 years ago, gold and silver torcs worn around the neck to display the wearer's importance. Torcs were first found at Snettisham in 1948 and 1950, and experts thought no more were buried there. In 1990, metal detectorist Charles Hodder found 9 kilograms of gold/silver fragments. He reported his finds and he and archaeologists found 75 torcs, carefully buried in small pits.

Gold Torc

Marriage Torc

One of the broken Torcs

The Snettisham Hoard

The Snettisham Hoard is a series of discoveries of Iron Age precious metal, found in the Snettisham area of the English county of Norfolk between 1948 and 1973.

The hoard consists of metal, jet and over 150 gold torc fragments, over 70 of which form complete torcs, dating from BC 70. Though the origins are unknown it is of a high enough quality to have been royal treasure of the Iceni, (Brythonic tribe in Britannia).

The hoard is considered number 4 in the top ten list of British archaeological finds selected by experts at the British Museum  

"The Great Torc, Snettisham, buried around 100 BC. The torc is one of the most elaborate golden objects from the ancient world. It is made from gold mixed with silver and weighs over 1 kg. Torcs are made from complex threads of metal, grouped into ropes and twisted around each other. The ends of the torc were gast in moulds and welded onto the metal ropes.

Ancient Golden Earring Discovered Hidden in a Jar in Israel

The assortment of jewelry is also out of the ordinary, notes Arie. Though the collection includes a number of lunette (moon-shaped) earrings of common Canaanite origin, researchers found an abundance of gold items in the collection and a number of beads made from carnelian, which was frequently used in the making of Egyptian jewellery in the same period.

This beautiful golden earring, decorated with figures of goats, was one of a trove of jewelry pieces that were wrapped in cloth and stuffed into a jar discovered by archaeologists at the Tel Meggido dig in Israel. When the team flushed the jar’s interior with water, earrings, a ring, and carnelian beads came tumbling out.

They aren’t sure why the jewelry was in the jar, but they posit that it could have been hidden there by the inhabitants of the home where the jar was found for safekeeping. The layer of soil where the find occurred dates from the 11th century BCE, a period when Meggido was under Egyptian rule, and the team believes the jewelry is either of Egyptian origin or inspired by Egyptian designs.

Image courtesy of American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Reposted from Discover Magazine