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'Most precious ornaments': Necklaces in seventh-century England

HAWORTH, KATIE,DANIELLE (2021) 'Most precious ornaments': Necklaces in seventh-century England. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis examines the necklaces buried in the graves of high-status women in seventh-century Anglo-Saxon England. Building on the insights of new chronological frameworks, this study explores what it meant to own, wear and be buried with a necklace during this formative period. The foundation of the study is a new database of material from across Anglo-Saxon England, including over 500 graves and in excess of 5,000 individual objects. Structured by the metaphor of object biographies, the analysis progresses thematically, exploring questions of materials, manufacture, use, assemblage, costume, the lifecourse and the wider societal context. By combining the results of detailed, object-focused analysis and innovative interdisciplinary research, this study provides the first detailed examination of the social roles of women during the seventh-century Conversion Period.

It reveals the centrality of necklaces in the expression of high-status female identity during this period. As layered, complex assemblages, necklaces provide a window onto the lived experiences of the wearer: her capacity to control, deploy and display moveable wealth; her ideological beliefs; her social roles and connections to networks of specifically female communication; her family ties and the importance during the period of close female kin relationships; and her individuality, personhood and personal taste. Understanding what necklaces meant and did allows for a reconsideration of broader changes to the furnished burial rite, as fundamentally shaped by the biographical entanglements of people and things. This study offers novel and exciting insights into gender, power and female agency in early medieval England and provides a new framework for re-examining the sweeping societal transformations of the seventh century.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:02 Jun 2021 09:57

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