Length: 25.000 cm
Height: 2.500 cm (bead)
Prehistory and Europe
The Desborough Necklace
From Desborough, Northamptonshire, England
Gold beads and cabochon garnet pendants
This necklace is the finest of its kind surviving from Anglo-Saxon England. Workmen found it while digging for ironstone in 1876. The necklace may or may not be complete: the workmen divided the gold items among themselves before being persuaded to hand them over for a small reward. The beads were found near the head of a female skeleton and were said to be the only finds in the grave. The burial was one of the richest of more than sixty graves disturbed at the site.
The necklace features
Small differences in the construction of the loops and the garnet stones suggest that elements of the necklace came from at least two different sources. This style of necklace developed from Byzantine fashions popular among the Lombards in about AD 550-600. The fashions spread north from Italy through Francia to Frisia (an area now covered by France, Germany and the Low Countries) and Anglo-Saxon England.
L. Webster and J. Backhouse, The making of England: Anglo-S, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)