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Notes on Hornton’s Anglo-Saxon Treasure.
The site was referred to by an online document accessed by B.Greenhalgh in 2010 named “Archaeological Survey of Oxfordshire”
‘a fairly rich burial now in the British Museum discovered at Hornton. It consisted of a large gilt bronze square headed brooch 4 and a quarter inches long, a pair of saucer brooches with very shallow rims decorated with running spirals and a string of beads, glass and
Early Anglo-Saxon burial site – Hornton. British Museum 1886 23rd March.
A search for ‘Anglo-Saxon square headed brooch’ on the British Museum website turned up photographs and details of the find, which were downloaded and printed. The excavation site is described as a ‘grave tunnel’ and the objects as 6th Century early Anglo-Saxon.
The site grid references were purchased from ARCHI Professional Oxfordshire by The Hornton History Group in 2011 for £24.95.
The site was revealed to be on the Church Glebe land.
The brooches and beads seem to be a set worn by a woman, the two small brooches held a tunic together on the shoulders with the necklace strung between them and the large brooch to fasten a cloak.
The brooches are described as gilded, chip carved and cast, with a Germanic style of decoration.
The beads are described as one crystal, one red glass with white zigzag, one green glass and one orange glass. The amber bead is a fusion of two pieces with an incised pattern. Amber was especially prized, its ownership denoting power and authority.
The pieces were acquired by the French dealer and auction firm Rollin & Feuardent’s London office about 1886. They were then sold on to the British Museum.
The story of how the jewellery was discovered and by whom is not yet known, or when the site was investigated by archaeologists and became an official archaeological site. Most Anglo-Saxon finds in Oxfordshire are in the Ashmolean Museum.
The vicar at the time was the Rev. Charles Heaven. He was known to be supplementing his income by farming the Glebe land. A house was built on the land at this time. The vicar had London connections.
Why Hornton? Things to bear in mind –
It is early Anglo –Saxon, before Christianity had taken hold, especially as far west from the early settlements of East Anglia. The hollow of Hornton provides a safe place with water – springs having a sacred quality. Ancient tracks run nearby. The land in this area was owned in later times by Royalty, possibly for its iron content - was it known from Roman trading? It was on the border between the aggressive Mercian tribes of the Midlands and the more peaceful Dobunni tribe who had cooperated with the Romans. A grave tunnel is not the usual Anglo Saxon type of burial – digging into the hillside is Hornton style! Had the owner of the jewellery traded it from the Saxon regions of Germany or brought it with them when colonising the area? It is not too long after the governing Romans left.
Plenty of scope for further research.
Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge