Name/TitleGold ring of bird-headed god with cross, Saffron Walden Museum, 2014.1
About this objectDiscovered by a metal detectorist in Essex, Britain in 2011, this is a high-status object showing the intersection of Christian and older art. Its high gold content (92-94%) suggests it might also have been a royal object. The lack of any other obvious Anglo-Saxon activity at the find site suggests it was a solitary loss.
It is decorated in a style used for elite objects from about 580–650, a period coinciding with the ‘princely’ burials seen at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk and Prittlewell, Essex. A belted anthropomorphic figure holds a long cross in the right hand and a bird of prey in the left. Two zoomorphic heads appear on the shoulder and on the hoop there are four raptors and interlace ornament. The ring can be seen as an example of the encounter and accommodation between traditional and Christian gods.
Subject and Association KeywordsEncounters
Subject and Association KeywordsCrosses
Subject and Association DescriptionLearn More: Bayliss et al. 2013; Wallis 2020.
Medium and MaterialsGold alloy (gold with slver, 5-6% and a small amount of copper)
Credit LineSaffron Walden Museum
Object numberEXH39: 2014.1