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 Museum Explorer

Gods and spirits in
Anglo-Saxon England

Brooch with a curse

Diameter: 14.900 cm

M&ME 1951,10-11,1

Brooch with a curse

From: Isle of Ely, Cambridgeshire
Date: first half of 11th century AD

This large silver brooch was owned by a woman called Ædwen. We know this because writing on the back says: 'Ædwen owns me…may the Lord curse him who takes me from her....'

The Anglo-Saxons believed in magic spells and the power of curses, but they also believed in God, and it was not unusual to ask the two to work together.

When the brooch was buried, the pin on the back was damaged. Ædwen may have had to tear the brooch from her clothes quickly to bury it in a time of danger.