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 Museum Explorer

Gods and spirits in
Anglo-Saxon England

Magical glass bead

Diameter: 4.400 cm

M&ME 1862,6-13.35

Magical glass bead

From: Grave 150, Long Wittenham, Oxfordshire
Date: 6th century AD

This very big bead is made of white glass with purple trails, and has a hole through its middle. It was found in a woman's grave with two similar beads made of stone and bone.

The bead is a mystery. It seems too big to have been worn, but is too beautiful to have been a tool - for example, used for weaving. Similar beads have been found in men's graves, where they were often attached to sword scabbards. It might be that these beads were thought to have magic powers, and were worn for good luck or protection.