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Sarre Grave 26

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posted on 2021-11-10, 15:41 authored by Helena HamerowHelena Hamerow
XXVI. Eight feet long, three feet three inches deep, two feet six inches wide. An umbo lay near the skull, and to its left a spear-head, the ferule of which was at the feet. On the breast a fine buckle brightly plated, and what appears to be the mounting of a purse. On the left side some iron keys and an iron lock [KAS 775], with a bronze plate containing a hole for its bolt; a small bronze balance and scales, with nineteen weights [KAS 469], lay at the left foot. [1] The grave contained, too, a knife or dirk, coupled with a smaller knife in one double sheath of wood; a circular iron plate, a knife, and a pair of shears [KAS 802-805].These are some of the most interesting and at the same time of the most strangely assorted relics ever found in an Anglo-Saxon grave.[1] It is possible, as a fragment like the mounting of a purse was found near, that some of our nineteen weights may have been money; most of them, however, are either dotted in various ways, as if to indicate some multiple of weight, or are ground and squared; and out of nine which are distinctly Roman coins five at least have been thus adapted as weights. They vary in weight from 8 grains to 1063 grains. A weight of 248 grains is marked with five dots, and another with seven; but I am unable to trace any proportion or relative connection between these or any of them.It seems impossible to trace proportion among these weights or to refer them to any fixed standard: nor does a comparison with the other sets, discovered at Gilton and Ozingell, at all help the attempt. The opinion that such scales and their adjuncts are those of money-changers, who made their weights as they required them, to test the many different coins of all nations which came before them in their business, seems a very reasonable one. It should, however, be remarked that Figs. 2 [KAS 469 (2)], 4 [KAS 469 (4)], and 6 [KAS 469 (6)], which are marked respectively with seven, five, and three little indentations in a line, bear a proportion in weight near enough to seven, five, and three, to be scarcely, I think, the result of accident. May not this rather point to a looseness and want of accuracy in such tests not unreasonably to be expected in the absence of a fixed general standard of weight? Some very similar marks are upon some of the Gilton weights, but the Gilton moneychanger and he of Sarr meant widely different quantities by their signs. It is to be hoped that further discoveries may throw new light on the obscure subject of Saxon weights.The occupation of a money-changer seems admirably represented by the somewhat various relics found in this grave, and commented on by Mr. Brent above; the weapons especially forming, no doubt, a very essential part of his stock-in-trade. – T. G. F.


Grave title


Date excavated

between September and December 1863


Brent 1866

Page number


Sonia Hawkes description

Man's grave. Length 8 feet, Width 2 feet 6 inches, Depth: 3 feet 3 inches.a. umbo, b. spearhead with ferule, c. buckle, d. mounting of purse?, e. iron keys, f. & g. iron lock with brass plane, h. small bronze balance and scales, i. 19 weights, j. knife with smaller knife in wooden sheath, k. circular iron plate, l. knife, m. pair of shears.

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