Page:VCH Warwickshire 1.djvu/321

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ANGLO-SAXON REMAINS published ; and within these limits numismatists distinguish three styles 1 that seem to characterize successive periods. First in point of time come the sceattas struck in imitation of Roman coins of the fourth and fifth centuries ; then copies of Prankish money ; and lastly, examples of Anglo-Saxon origin, that perhaps on one face betray their indebtedness to Roman or Prankish originals, but otherwise reveal a growing sense of independence on the part of the native moneyers. The sceatta from which the Compton bracteate was derived belongs to this last class, the roundels 2 on the reverse occurring down to the time of Offa on other specimens that are known to be contemporary, and the bracteate under discussion supports the view that the native types of sceattas were the latest. Though the characters in imitation of the Latin legend are meaningless, there is still some internal evidence of date. A cross supported by two standing figures occurs on certain Byzantine coins down to the twelfth century ; but as the sceatta was in all probability current in Mercia at the time the bracteate was made, there can be little doubt that the type was derived from coins of the Eastern Empire struck between 650 and 750, especially by Constantine Pogonatus (65968). Allowing a few years for the stages of trans- mission, it is clear that the Compton burial cannot be earlier than the last quarter of the seventh century. Some characteristic relics were found with a skeleton about Easter, 1851, in the Mill field, nearly a quarter of a mile to the south of Aston Cantlow church, and to the left of the road leading to Sydenham Ford. 3 The burial was upon the brow of a hill, about a foot beneath the surface, the head raised somewhat above the feet. The skeleton was complete and appeared not to have been previously disturbed, so that the objects recovered may be taken to represent the complete array of ornaments. The head faced the north, and the hands seemed to have been folded over the breast. As neither weapons nor iron objects of any kind accompanied this interment it may be supposed to have been that of a woman, the ornaments consisting of two gilt saucer-shaped brooches, one on either shoulder, a buckle lying on the chest, and below it a white stone bead, which may possibly have been a spindle-whorl. Though numerous coins and a paved pathway have been found at Mill Hill and in the adjacent fields from time to time, there was no record of any other interment of this period. More than sixty years ago a female skeleton was discovered in the boundary fence of Ragley Park at Alcester. 4 Associated with this were some interesting antiquities of the early Anglo-Saxon period. The small iron knife is usually found in graves of either sex, but the richness of the ornaments and the absence of weapons alike testify to the sex of the 1 Catalogue of Anglo-Saxon Coins (British Museum), vol. i. p. xviii. 8 Examples in Catalogue of Anglo-Saxon Coins (British Museum), vol. i. pi. iv. figs. 2, 1 3 (reverse) ; the cross with supporters occurs on same plate, figs. 4 (reverse) and 1 7 (obverse). All these are attributed to Mercian kings. 3 Society of Antiquaries, Proceedings, ser. 2, iii. 424. * Ibid. v. 453. 34