Copper-alloy tweezers

Anglo-Saxon, 5th-6th century AD
From a cemetery at Kempston, Bedfordshire

These tweezers, which are large and rather heavy, are made of copper alloy and have a well-defined loop from which they would have hung. The flat surface of both blades is ornamented with a series of nicks on the edges which separate bands of incised lines.

Tweezers are found in the graves of both men and women, sometimes as part of the cosmetic sets that are common to many cultures throughout history. In Anglo-Saxon England, women, particularly high-status women, were buried with sets of cosmetic implements that are thought to have hung at the waist. Cosmetic sets were not only useful, but may also have had an amuletic purpose. They usually included delicate picks for the teeth, scoops to clean wax from ears and tweezers to pluck unwanted hair. All are often mounted together on slipknot rings.

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More information


H. Geake, The use of grave-goods in conv, BAR British Series 261 (Oxford, 1997)

G.B. Brown, The arts in early England, vol (London, 1915)

A.L. Meaney, Anglo-Saxon amulets and curing, BAR British Series 96 (Oxford, 1981)


Length: 6.800 cm

Museum number

M&ME 1891,6-24,157



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