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Guilton Grave 83

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posted on 2021-11-10, 15:12 authored by Helena HamerowHelena Hamerow
Grave as the last, and about three feet deep. Much black dust and many coals of a burnt coffin: the bones pretty perfect, and the teeth uncommonly, sound and regular, as of a young person.[1]The heads of two pila, on the right side: a conical umbo; in its rim four iron studs: three other broad-headed iron studs: two crooked pieces of iron, each about six inches long, held together by an iron chain, whose links, about half an inch long each, were of the shape here described (see cut). To one of these irons was riveted a copper coin of Nero [M 6072]; it is of the first size, and gilded. For the form of one of these crooked pieces of iron (for the other was much more broken), see figure. The coin has the head of Nero, laureated, on one side, with this legend, IMP. NERO. CLAVDIVS. CAESAR. AVG. GERM. On the reverse, is Rome sitting upon an heap of armour; in her right hand she holds a victoriola, and in her left a spear; with this legend, ROMA. s.c. There can, I think, be no doubt but that this was the bit of a bridle, and a great curiosity. It is great pity it was not made of brass, that it might have been taken out and preserved entire. For the nature of sand, I experimentally find, is such, that it entirely consumes, blisters, and rots everything made of iron, which, if by chance gotten out whole (which on account of its brittleness is seldom done), falls to pieces, and moulders away in a very short time.[2]Here were also the blades of two knives; and also, at the feet, on the outside of the coffin, a very curious urn of green glass [M 6073], which, though very much broken by a stroke from a spade, I thought worth while to preserve on account of its extraordinary shape. Before it was broken, it was near ten inches high, and about four inches diameter; it has a very small bottom, not more than three quarters of an inch diameter, from whence it is very curiously corded with raised spiral lines, all the way up to the mouth; it has six handles, which are all of them hollow from the inside of the urn, very like some old fashioned syllabub glasses which I have seen.[3]These handles are placed three above and three below; I imagine it will hold above a quart. It had nothing in it but sand.[1]Usually, the teeth of the skeletons in Saxon graves, which I have examined, were in excellent preservation ; decayed teeth were not common, even when the skulls appeared to denote advanced age. – C.R.S.[2]The above cut represents the coin attached to the iron, and the chain, as shewn in, apparently, a very faithful drawing appended to the manuscript; of these interesting fragments, the coin alone has survived. Roman brass coins were often worn by the Saxon women, and gold coins are not unfrequently found among the ornaments of those of the higher class, examples of which occur in this collection. The warrior, whose remains occupied this grave, had decorated his horse's headgear with one of the large brass coins of Nero. In the deposit with the body of horse-furniture may be noticed an expiring vestige of an ancient custom of the Germans in burying the war-horse with his master, as related by Tacitus, De Mor. Germ. c. xxvii. Only a few instances of this custom have been met with in the Anglo-Saxon burial-places. – C.R.S.[3]It is only a few years since these rare and curious glass vessels were noticed and appropriated to the Anglo-Saxon period. A fine example in the Canterbury Museum, found at Reculver, had been drawn for my Antiquities of Richborough, Reculver, and Lymne; but it was postponed from want of further evidence: the present example was then unknown to me. Shortly after, however, I was able to associate it with another, found by Mr. Wylie in Gloucestershire; and at the same time to compare it with an example from the cemetery at Selzen in the province of Rhein-Hesse: see Collectanea Antiqua, vol. ii, p. 220, and pl. LI. The Reculver vessel has since been engraved in Col. Ant., vol. ii, pl. LI ; and by Mr. Akerman, in his Remains of Pagan Saxondom, plate II. Recently, Mr. Thurston has communicated to me a fine specimen found at Ashford. – C.R.S.


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