Saturday, 28 May 2016

Camels in early medieval western Europe: beasts of burden & tools of ritual humiliation

The aim of the following post is simply to collect together some of the references to camels in early medieval Europe, where they seem to have been used as both beasts of burden and a means of humiliating one's enemies, the latter perhaps being inspired by Late Roman/Byzantine practice.

A line of dancing camels, aka an illustration for Genesis 24, from the eleventh-century Old English Hexateuch, British Library, MS Cotton Claudius B IV, f. 39r (image: British Library).

There is now a fairly substantial body of archaeological evidence showing that both dromedaries and Bactrian camels were present in modern Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia and the Balkans between the first and the fifth centuries AD. Roman-era camel bones—all from adult animals—have been recovered from military settlements, villas, civilian urban sites and amphitheatres, and it is generally thought that these animals were being primarily used as pack animals/beasts of burden, with finds of Bactrian camels perhaps being related to civilian traders and caravans arriving from Central Asia whilst dromedaries from North Africa and Arabia are thought to have been used for both Roman military and civilian traffic. In addition, it is possible that a few of the finds of camel bones may reflect curiosities in the collections of rich landowners, and amphitheatre finds have been sometimes considered suggestive of the use of camels in public shows, although this latter notion is open to question: certainly, an investigation into the camel skeleton from the amphitheatre at Viminacium, Serbia, shows that this dates from after the amphitheatre had ceased to be used in that way.

Turning to the early medieval period (from the late fifth century onwards), the evidence suggests that camels continued to play a role as pack animals in western Europe even after the political dissolution of the Western Roman Empire, with the camels so used being potentially bred in North Africa before being exported to Europe. So, for example, Ennodius, a Milanese deacon, provided camels to Pope Symmachus for his trip to Ravenna to see Theoderic the Great in around AD 499. Similarly, Gregory of Tours noted the use of camels as pack animals in southern Gaul in the 580s in his History of the FranksVII.35:
By now King Guntram's leaders had learnt that Gundovald was ensconced on the opposite bank of the Garonne, with a huge force of enemy troops and having in his possession the entire treasure of Rigunth, which he had stolen. They advanced until they reached he Garonne and then swam across with their horses, some of the soldiers being drowned in the process. The remainder reached the opposite bank. In their search for Gundovald they came upon camels and horses, still carrying huge loads of gold and silver, which his men had abandoned along the roads because the animals were exhausted...
Pack-camels and riding camels in the late sixth- or early seventh-century Tours Pentateuch, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS nouv. acq. lat. 2334 f. 69 (image: BnF Gallica).

This use of pack-camels in Gaul apparently continued into at least the seventh-century. Dado's contemporary Vita S. Eligii, II.13, recounts the following of St Eligius, who died in 660:
Eligius prepared to pack all his things and leave for his own country from the house of Aspasius of the Iuvini family, a most illustrious Christian man. Last of all, he met with Bishop Aurelian of Uzes, who told him that amidst the bustling of the servants of both their houses one of his servants had suddenly lost a basket which he always kept with him to lead the pack-camel so that in the confusion he could keep him to the road.
Needless to say, St Eligius with miraculous knowledge identified the thief and was able to shame him into returning the necessary basket. Another reference to an early medieval pack-camel occurs in the Gesta Pontificum Anglorum of William of Malmesbury, who records a credible tale of St Aldhelm—the late seventh- and early eighth-century Abbot of Malmesbury and Bishop of Sherborne—visiting Rome, before describing his homeward journey using a camel as a beast of burden:
Aldhelm set out energetically on his journey home... carrying with him many different pieces of valuable foreign merchandise, intending to bring to England a quantity of splendid novelties. Among these was an altar of gleaming marble, white in colour, six feet thick, four feet long and three hands wide, with a lip jutting out from the stone and beautifully decorated all around. A camel, so it is said (for what animal of our country could shoulder such a burden?) carried it safely all the way to the Alps. But there the camel (or whatever animal it was, for it does not matter which particular beast carried it) collapsed, injured by the excessive weight or undone by the steep slopes of the track. The fall crushed the animal and broke the marble into two parts.
A baby camel/brontosaurus tied to a tree, from Marvels of the East in the Beowulf-manuscript, which dates from c. AD 1000, British Library Cotton MS Vitellius A XV f.101r (image: British Library).

Other evidence for the presence of camels in early medieval western Europe includes a camel bone from Lyon dated to the eighth or ninth century and references to their use for transport in Iberia after the Muslim conquest. Perhaps the most interesting evidence comes not from their use as pack animals, however, but rather as a means to humiliate one's enemies. The most famous example here is that of Brunhilda (d. 613), who ruled the eastern Frankish kingdoms of Austrasia and Burgundy for three periods as regent for her son, grandson and great-grandson, until she was finally overthrown and killed by Chlothar II. The eighth-century Liber Historiae Francorum, 96, describes her shockingly brutal death as follows:
Then the army of the Franks and Burgundians joined into one, all shouted together that death would be most fitting for the very wicked Brunhilda. Then King Clotaire ordered that she be lifted on to a camel and led through the entire army. Then she was tied to the feet of wild horses and torn apart limb from limb. Finally she died. Her final grave was the fire. Her bones were burnt.
The contemporary Visigothic king in Hispania and Septimania, Sisebut, who died in 621, gives further details of both her death and the use of camels in his Life of St Desiderius21:
Concerning her end, it will not irk me to relate what I have learnt from common opinion. There is a hunched beast with a huge body and naturally possessed of certain humps (the top of its back is thick and broad, higher than the rest of its frame, and very well fitted for carrying loads) and is more useful for carrying loads than any other animal. She was stripped of her clothes and raised up onto this proud central place and paraded in humiliation before the gaze of her enemies. For a short while she offered this sorry spectacle to her onlookers, then, bound to some unbroken horses, she was dragged over some pathless rocky terrain. Thus her body, already broken by old age, was plucked apart by these spirited horses and her limbs, bloody and nameless, scattered abroad.
Brunhilda was not the only person in the early medieval west to be exposed to mockery on the back of a camel in this fashion, however. Another example comes from Julian of Toldeo's late seventh-century Historia Wambae Regis30, in which he describes the Visigothic King Wamba's triumph over the rebellious Duke Paul in AD 673 and a similar subsequent humiliation of the rebels via the use of camels:
At about the fourth milestone from the royal city, Paul, the chief of the rebellion and other leaders of his conspiracy, with shorn heads, shaved beards, bare feet, and dressed in filthy garments of tunics, are placed on camels. The king of perdition himself went at the head of the pageant, worthy of all the shame of defeat and crowned with pitch on his flayed scalp. A procession of his ministers advancing in a long line followed the king, all of them sitting on the same sort of conveyances as he and driven forward by the same mockeries, with the people standing on either side as they entered the city. Nor should we believe that this befell them without the consent of the just judgment of God, so that their sitting on these mounts raise above all others should mark the lofty summit of their dishonor and so that those who had aimed at sublime heights beyond human nature through the deviousness of their minds should now expiate the treason of their elevation set high above the rest.
Dromedaries as depicted in the sixth-century Vienna Genesis in an illustration of the story of Rebecca, Genesis 24 (image: Wikimedia Commons).

The concept of humiliating one's enemies by making them ride upon the hump of a camel continued to carry weight in western Europe for some considerable period of time. Notker's ninth-century Life of Charlemagne, 31, for example, included a story of a cleric who fell asleep whilst waiting for Charlemagne to go to mass and dreamt of a giant, 'taller than the adversary of Saint Anthony', who was going to lead the royal steward Liutfrid to hell on top of a camel for embezzling the king's wealth! Moreover, as late as 1121 the antipope Gregory VIII was paraded by Pope Callistus II through the streets of Rome riding backwards on a camel and exposed to 'the crudest mockery'. As to the origins of this punishment, it seems to have its roots in Late Roman/Byzantine practice, perhaps parodying the consular investiture ceremony. One of the earliest apparent references from Late Antiquity comes via Socrates Scholasticus—in his fifth-century Historia Ecclesiastica, 3.2—and other sources, who describe George of Cappadocia as having been 'fastened to a camel' in c. 362 and led through Alexandria before being torn to pieces and burnt by the pagans there, and it has been suggested that this eastern Roman humiliation was passed to the west via Justinian's use of the camel in this way against the treasonous Armenian Arsaces at Constantinople, as described by Procopius in the mid-sixth century in his History of the WarsVII.32.3:
There was also a certain Arsaces in Byzantium, an Armenian by birth and one of the Arsacidae, related to Artabanes by blood. This man had been detected not long before this in an attempt to harm the state, and he had been clearly convicted of treason, since he was negotiating with Chosroes, the Persian king, to stir up trouble for the Romans. But the emperor did him no further harm than to beat his back with not many blows and parade him through the city mounted on a camel...
Whatever the case may be on the latter, the practice continued to be used against state enemies in the Byzantine world as well as western Europe into the twelfth century, the last recorded instance being when it was used against the deposed emperor Andronicus I Comnenus in AD 1185, as the contemporary Robert of Clari relates:
But there was there a certain wise man, who said, “Sirs, if ye would trust me, I would show you how we might avenge ourselves right well of him. I have at home a camel, which is the foulest beast and the most bedunged and ugliest in the world. Now we will take Andronicus, and we will strip him stark naked, and we will bind him to the camel’s back in such fashion that his face shall be against its rump, and we will lead him from one end of the city even unto the other. Thus will all they, both men and women, whom he hath wronged, be able to avenge themselves right well.” And all agreed to that which that man had told them. And they took Andronicus and bound him even as the man had devised. And as they were leading him adown the city, then came those that he had wronged; and they stabbed him and pricked him, some with knives, and others with daggers, and yet others with swords. And they cried, “Twas thou didst hang my father! ‘Twas thou didst ravish my wife!”

A twelfth-century Spanish fresco of a camel from the hermitage of San Baudelio de Berlanga, halfway between Madrid and Saragossa (image: The Met).

A twelfth-century mosaic of camels, illustrating the story of Rebecca from Genesis, from the Palatine Chapel, Palermo (image: Andrew & Suzanne, Flickr CC BY-NC).

The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2016, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission.

Monday, 23 May 2016

A note on the evidence for African migrants in Britain from the Bronze Age to the medieval period

The degree to which pre-modern Britain included people of African origin within its population continues to be a topic of considerable interest and some controversy. Previous posts on this site have discussed a variety of textual, linguistic, archaeological and isotopic evidence for people from the Mediterranean and/or Africa in the British Isles from the Late Bronze Age through to the eleventh century AD. However, the focus in these posts has been on individual sites, events or periods, rather than the question of the potential proportion of people from Africa present in pre-modern Britain per se and how this may have varied over time. The aim of the following post is thus to briefly ponder whether an overview of the increasingly substantial British corpus of oxygen isotope evidence drawn from pre-modern archaeological human teeth has anything interesting to tell us with regard to this question.

Map of the British Isles, showing drinking-water oxygen isotope values and the 16 British archaeological sites (including three in York) with evidence for pre-modern people whose results are consistent with an early life spent in North Africa (image: C. R. Green, using a base-map image © BGS/NERC, reproduced under their non-commercial licence, as detailed on the BGS website).

Proportion of investigated sites from each period with at least one oxygen isotope result consistent with an origin in North Africa (image: C. R. Green).

The rationale for using oxygen isotope evidence as a tool for identifying people from Africa in pre-modern Britain was set out at some length in a previous post—essentially, tooth enamel oxygen isotope values reflect those of the water that was drunk by an individual in childhood, with drinking-water values varying markedly with climate and related factors. As such, it should be possible to identify first-generation migrants to Britain in the archaeological record by measuring their tooth enamel oxygen isotope levels, so long as they grew up in a region with significantly different drinking-water values to those found in Britain, a criteria North Africa fits comfortably, with many parts of it possessing levels notably higher than those found anywhere in Britain or, indeed, Europe.

In order to make a first pass at trying to assess whether isotopic data can help answer the question of the potential number of African people in medieval and earlier Britain and the variations in this number over time, I pulled together a rough corpus of 909 oxygen isotopes results taken from individuals buried at 79 Bronze Age–Medieval sites across Britain published up to the start of 2016, and then sorted these into four broad chronological periods: Bronze Age–Iron Age (22 sites), Roman (15 sites), Early Medieval (29 sites) and Medieval (14 sites), with one site in use across two of the periods.(1) I then went through this material to identify individuals whose results are sufficiently elevated so as to be both clearly indicative of a non-local origin and most consistent with a childhood spent in North Africa, rather than anywhere in Britain or Europe.(2) Needless to say, taking such an overview of the entire period from the Bronze Age to the Medieval era via a single dataset produces some interesting results, as well as some pitfalls. The former can be summarized as follows:
  • 20.3% of the 79 surveyed Bronze Age–Medieval sites contained at least one person who has results consistent with a childhood spent in Africa (n=16). As can be seen from the map included above, these sites are spread across Britain, with the majority coming from what is now England, although not exclusively so. Note, some of the 'gaps' in the resultant distribution may well be more apparent than real, stemming from a lack of published sites in some areas, such as north-western England and Norfolk. 
  • Sites possessing isotopic evidence consistent with the presence of first-generation immigrants from North Africa are found in all periods looked at, although there is a clear peak in the Roman era. The Roman era—the mid-first to early fifth centuries AD—has the greatest number of sites with such evidence, namely seven, these being Winchester (Lankhills), Gloucester, York (three sites: Trentholme Drive, The Railway & Driffield Terrace), Scorton near Catterick, and Wasperton. Furthermore, nearly 47% of all Roman sites where isotopic analysis has occurred have produced evidence suggestive of the presence of people who grew up in North Africa, a significantly higher proportion than is found for any other era. The next highest raw totals of sites with such isotopic evidence belong jointly to the 'Early Medieval' and 'Medieval' eras (four sites each), although it is important to note that the Early Medieval total results from over twice as many sites being isotopically investigated than is the case for the Medieval era—as such, whilst 28.6% of the Medieval-era sites in the corpus have isotopic evidence consistent with the presence of North African migrants, only 13.8% of the Early Medieval sites do. Finally, the Bronze Age–Iron Age is represented by only a single qualifying site on the Isle of Thanet, Kent, equivalent to 4.5% of all Bronze Age–Iron Age sites where isotopic analysis has taken place, although this Late Bronze Age–Middle Iron Age cemetery has multiple people with such results buried within it.
  • In total, 3.7% of the 909 Bronze Age–Medieval individuals surveyed from these 79 sites have results consistent with a childhood spent in Africa (n=34). This percentage reflects the fact that the majority of the sites looked at here only contain one or two individuals with values high enough for inclusion in the present study.
  • A small number of results are elevated to such a degree that they strongly indicate a childhood spent in the Nile Valley or Delta. Around 11.8% of the individual oxygen isotope results that were highlighted here were exceptionally elevated to above 21.0‰ δ¹⁸Op (n=4), a level that is probably indicative of a childhood spent in or around the Nile Valley, where equivalent values have been recorded from the ancient burial site at Mendes in the Nile Delta, Egypt, and other sites up to the third Nile cataract at Tombos. Interestingly, these results come from individuals spread across the chronological range: one from a Late Bronze Age burial at Thanet, Kent (ninth century BC); one from a Middle Iron Age grave at the same site (fourth century BC); one from Roman York (the Driffield Terrace site); and one from the medieval cemetery at Whithorn, Scotland (late twelfth to thirteenth century AD).
With regard to explanations for such a potential presence of people who grew up in North Africa in Britain from the Late Bronze Age through to the medieval period, several possibilities can be identified. For example, the peak in sites with isotopic evidence consistent with the presence of such people in the Roman era is perhaps unsurprising, given the significant epigraphic, textual and archaeological evidence for people from Africa and/or of African descent in Britain at that time, and a major research project has, in fact, recently been completed on the topic of diaspora communities in Roman Britain. Indeed, at York around 11–12% of the individuals buried in two of the large Roman-era cemeteries there are considered to be very likely of 'African descent' on the basis of anthroposcopic/craniometric analysis, whilst yet more are thought to have potential 'mixed' or 'black' ancestry, up to a possible maximum of 51% of the population in the higher-status 'The Railway' cemetery. Similarly, there is documentary and archaeological evidence for contacts between the Byzantine Empire, North Africa and post-Roman western Britain and England in the early medieval period which may well offer a potential explanation for some of the results retrieved—significant quantities of fifth- to sixth-century Byzantine imported pottery have, for example, been found along the west coast of Britain, including some produced in the Carthage region, and Middle Saxon England included churchmen such as Hadrian, the later seventh and early eighth-century Abbot of St Augustine's, Canterbury, who was 'a man of African race' (Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica, IV.1) and is thought to have grown up in Libya Cyrenaica before moving to Italy following the mid-seventh-century Arab conquest of North Africa. For the Medieval period, the Crusades and the evidence for trade and contacts between England and the Mediterranean/Spain have been suggested as obvious potential reasons for the presence of people from Africa here then, whilst the Late Bronze Age to Middle Iron Age evidence from Thanet can perhaps be seen in the context of both the well-evidenced Bronze Age trading along the Atlantic coast between the Mediterranean, Iberia, Britain and Scandinavia, and the increasing body of linguistic, numismatic and archaeological evidence for Mediterranean/Punic contacts with Britain during the Iron Age.

Of course, whilst the above isotopic evidence is certainly intriguing, there are undoubtedly pitfalls to be aware of. On the one hand, we need to be wary of overestimating the proportion of any North African migrants in pre-modern Britain using isotopic evidence. For example, sites are sometimes chosen for isotopic analysis because they look potentially 'interesting', as was arguably the case with the cemeteries at York, Winchester and Thanet, and such a situation might well lead to a greater proportion of positive 'hits' in any corpus aiming to look for potential evidence of long-distance migration. Similarly, it is not totally impossible that a few of the people with the more marginal results discussed here could just have had their origins in a small area of southernmost Iberia rather than North Africa, although the bar for inclusion in the present corpus was set at such a level as to hopefully significantly reduce the possibility of this, and a substantial proportion of the results included here are, moreover, well above any plausible southern Iberian range.(3) On the other hand, the corpus could well underestimate both the number of individuals who may have had their origins in North Africa and their chronological spread. So, for example, whilst over 900 results were surveyed here, we still end up with a situation whereby none of the individuals with elevated values date from the Late Saxon/Anglo-Scandinavian period (later ninth to eleventh centuries). Taking this as a reflection of a lack of people from Africa in Britain at that time would, however, be a mistake: not only do we have good textual evidence for the presence of such people in the British Isles, but there are three burials of people of African descent known from tenth- and eleventh-century Gloucestershire and East Anglia—the problem is simply that none of them have been subjected to isotopic analysis and so they haven't been included here. Likewise, there are at least four burials of people who appear to be of African descent in the medieval cemetery at Ipswich, but only one has been isotopically tested (interestingly, five of the post-medieval/sixteenth-century burials there also appear to be those of people of African descent). Finally, by adopting a fairly high bar to inclusion in the corpus so as to avoid—as much as possible—the risk of 'false positives', we actually end up excluding a significant number of individuals who are generally accepted as being of African origin. So, only three members of a group of thirteen burials from Lankhills (Winchester) have results high enough to be included in the current corpus, despite the fact that all thirteen are considered to form a sub-group that is probably of African origin within the cemetery. All told, therefore, it might well be wondered whether the above tendencies to both overestimate and underestimate don't, in fact, cancel each other out.

North African unguentaria found in a grave from the Late Roman cemetery at Lankhills, Winchester, that is part of the sub-group with elevated oxygen isotope results mentioned above, but which has values just a little below the cut-off for inclusion in the corpus used in this post (image: Oxford Archaeology, reused under their CC BY-SA 3.0 license).


1     This corpus is based primarily upon J. A. Evans, C. A. Chenery & J. Montgomery, 'A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation in archaeological human tooth enamel excavated from Britain', Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 27 (2012), 754–64 and 'Supplementary Material I' (14 pp.), to which have been added studies published after that paper or missing from it, using a Google Scholar search to catch any publications that weren't already known. Note, the periods assigned to the results taken from Evans et al, 'Supplementary Material I', have been checked and revised by me for this corpus, as they were occasionally idiosyncratic: 'Roman' is here used as a catch-all term for results from the first to early fifth centuries AD, 'Early Medieval' for those results from the period between the early fifth and late eleventh centuries AD, and 'Medieval' for those from the twelfth through to the fifteenth centuries. The additional studies used in creating this corpus are as follows, arranged by date of publication: S. Lucy et al, 'The burial of a princess? The later seventh-­century cemetery at Westfield Farm, Ely', Antiquity, 89 (2009), 81–141; J. Montgomery, 'Isotope analysis of bone collagen and tooth enamel', in C. Lowe (ed.), The P.R. Ritchie Excavations at Whithorn Priory, 1957–67: Medieval Bishops' Graves and Other Discoveries (Edinburgh, 2010), pp. 65–82; A. M. Pollard et al, '"Sprouting like cockle amongst the wheat": The St Brice's Day Massacre and the isotopic analysis of human bones from St John's College, Oxford', Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 31 (2012), 83–102; S. E. Groves et al, 'Mobility histories of 7th–9th century AD people buried at early medieval Bamburgh, Northumberland, England', American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 151 (2013), 462–76; K. A. Hemer et al, 'Evidence of early medieval trade and migration between Wales and the Mediterranean Sea region', Journal of Archaeological Science, 40 (2013), 2352–59; M. Jay et al, 'British Iron Age burials of the Arras culture: a multi-isotope approach to investigating mobility levels and subsistence practices', World Archaeology, 45 (2013), 473–91; E. Kendall et al, 'Mobility, mortality, and the middle ages: identification of migrant individuals in a 14th century black death cemetery population', American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 150 (2013), 210–22; C. A. Roberts et al, 'Isotopic tracing of the impact of mobility on infectious disease: the origin of people with treponematosis buried in Hull, England, in the Late Medieval period', American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 150 (2013), 273–85; K. A. Hemer et al, 'No Man is an island: evidence of pre-Viking Age migration to the Isle of Man'. Journal of Archaeological Science, 52 (2014), 242–9; J. I. McKinley et al, Cliffs End Farm, Isle of Thanet, Kent. A Mortuary and Ritual Site of the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Anglo-Saxon Period with Evidence for Long-Distance Maritime Mobility (Salisbury, 2014); J. Montgomery et al, 'Finding Vikings with isotope analysis: the view from wet and windy islands', Journal of the North Atlantic, Special Volume 7 (2014), 54–70; H. Eckardt et al, 'The Late Roman field army in northern Britain? Mobility, material culture and multi-isotope analysis at Scorton (N. Yorks)', Britannia, 46 (2015), 191–223; S. A. Inskip et al, 'Osteological, biomolecular and geochemical examination of an early Anglo-Saxon case of lepromatous leprosy', PLoS ONE, 10.5 (2015), pp. 1–22, online at; R. Martiniano et al, 'Genomic signals of migration and continuity in Britain before the Anglo-Saxons', Nature Communications, 7 (2016), article 10326, 8 pp., online at, and Supplementary Materials, 54 pp. (Table 3 and discussion in Supplementary Note 2). I also include 'Ipswich Man' in the corpus, a man of African descent who was buried in the thirteenth century in Ipswich, as he was isotopically investigated and consequently determined to probably have his origins in North Africa, although the results are still as yet unpublished: BBC, History Cold Case: Series 1, Episode 1—Ipswich Man (broadcast 27 July 2010); 'Medieval African found buried in England', Discovery News, 11 February 2013, online at; K. Wade, Ipswich Archive Summaries: Franciscan Way, IAS 5003 (2014), online at; and Xanthé Mallett, pers. comm..
2     The following footnote outlines the methodology adopted here. The conventional upper cut-off for phosphate oxygen isotope values for people who grew up in the British Isles is 18.6‰ δ¹⁸Op, although it has been suggested that people brought up on the far western margins of Britain and Ireland—where drinking-water oxygen isotope values are at their highest, between -5.0‰ and -4.5‰ δ¹⁸Odw (see map)—could theoretically have values up to 19.2‰ δ¹⁸Op (see K. A. Hemer et al, 'Evidence of early medieval trade and migration between Wales and the Mediterranean Sea region', Journal of Archaeological Science, 40 (2013), 2352–59; C. Chenery et al, 'Strontium and stable isotope evidence for diet and mobility in Roman Gloucester, UK', Journal of Archaeological Science, 37 (2010), 150–63; and especially J. A. Evans et al, 'A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation in archaeological human tooth enamel excavated from Britain', Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 27 (2012), 754–64). As such, and in order to avoid as much doubt as possible, I decided only to look at people with tooth enamel phosphate oxygen isotope results of 19.2‰+ for this post. This reflects, across the entire resulting corpus, the childhood consumption of drinking-water with values from -3.5‰ δ¹⁸Odw up to +2.0‰ δ¹⁸Odw on the 2010 revised Levinson equation or -4.0‰ δ¹⁸Odw to +0.3‰ δ¹⁸Odw on the 2008 Daux et al equation—needless to say, whichever equation is used, these values are notably higher than the maximum British drinking-water value of c. -4.5‰ δ¹⁸Odw (found only in a few spots in the far west of the Outer Hebrides and Cornwall), but in line with results from North Africa, whilst the highest of the recorded results in the corpus can only be matched in the Nile Valley, as was discussed in a previous post. Indeed, over 50% of the individuals studied in this post have results of at least 19.5‰ δ¹⁸Op, equivalent to a drinking-water value of -2.8‰ δ¹⁸Odw (-3.5‰ δ¹⁸Odw) or more, significantly above any credible British range and only really paralleled in some areas of North Africa. Moreover, it is worth noting from the map attached to this post that none of the individuals who are included in the study corpus were actually found in the areas with the highest drinking-water values in Britain, removing any lingering potential doubt as to their non-local origin. In fact, only a single individual of the 34 discussed here was found in an area with a local drinking-water value above -6.0‰ δ¹⁸Odw, whilst the vast majority (79%) come from areas where drinking water values are between -7.0‰ and -8.5‰. As such, not only do they largely come from areas where the theoretical maximum for tooth enamel phosphate oxygen isotope values is closer to c. 18.5‰, according to Evans et al (2012, p. 759), not 19.2‰, but their results actually reflect the childhood consumption of water with values at least 3.0‰ higher than the local level right up to potentially as much as 10.2‰ higher (at the Driffield Terrace, York, site)—in all cases, this is significantly above any plausible variations around the local range and is massively so in the case of many results. Finally, it is worth noting that the adoption of this relatively conservative approach may mean that the number of individuals of in Britain who grew up in North Africa is underestimated, rather than overestimated. For example, even a small drop of the bar to include all those with results of 19.0‰ δ¹⁸Op or above more more than doubles the number to be taken into the current corpus from our main source (the 2012 Evans et al corpus), and it is worth noting that many of the people with results at this level are indeed usually accepted as being probable migrants from North Africa, as are a significant number of people with slightly lower results too (see, for example, Evans et al, 'A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation', pp. 760–2; K. A. Hemer et al, 'Evidence of early medieval trade and migration between Wales and the Mediterranean Sea region'; and the discussion in a previous post, 'Some oxygen isotope evidence for long-distance migration to Britain from North Africa & southern Iberia, c.1100 BC–AD 800', 24 October 2015, blog post, online at Nonetheless, it was felt worthwhile to set the bar higher in the present study in order to minimize as fully as possible the risk of false positives, and also to avoid as much as possible increasing the chance of some of the people studied here could have their origins in the one other area of Europe with very high drinking-water oxygen isotope values, southernmost Iberia, see note 3.
3     The map included in Evans et al, 'A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation', p. 761, indicates that the only part of Europe other than Britain with water oxygen isotope values above -5.0‰ is a small area of the south-eastern Iberian peninsula. L. J. Araguas-Araguas & M. F. Diaz Teijeiro, 'Isotope composition of precipitation and water vapour in the Iberian Peninsula', in IAEA, Isotopic composition of precipitation in the Mediterranean Basin in relation to air circulation patterns and climate (Vienna, 2005), pp. 173–90 at p. 178, state that values in this area range down to -4.3‰ δ¹⁸O, which is slightly enriched over the upper end of the British range (c. -4.5‰ δ¹⁸O); they also indicate that similar values above -5.0‰ δ¹⁸O are found in limited areas of the south-western coast of Iberia too, contrary to Evans et al, with groundwater results of c. 4.0‰ or even slightly higher reported from a very small zone around Cádiz (Araguas-Araguas & Diaz Teijeiro, fig. 3 at p. 180). In consequence, the bar for consideration in the present post was set relatively high to reduce the chance of including people from southernmost Iberia in the corpus—as was mentioned in note 2, above, only people with tooth enamel phosphate oxygen isotope results of 19.2‰+ were considered here, which on the 2010 revised Levinson equation (as used in K. A. Hemer et al, 'Evidence of early medieval trade and migration between Wales and the Mediterranean Sea region', Journal of Archaeological Science, 40 (2013), 2352–59, and other recent studies) equates to the consumption of drinking-water with values of -3.5‰ δ¹⁸O or above, with the majority of the results included here moreover reflecting the consumption of drinking-water with even higher values than this, ranging from -2.8‰ δ¹⁸O right up to +2.0‰ δ¹⁸O, well above the southern Iberian range.

The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2016, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Sinister omens & idle traditions: a twelfth-century superstition that the king of England must not enter Lincoln

The following note discusses a rather intriguing medieval superstition which states that the king of England must not enter the city of Lincoln for fear of calamity. Some of the key witnesses to this superstition are noted below, the earliest of them dating from the mid-1140s and the last from around 1201.

John Speed's proof plan of Lincoln, created at some point between 1603 and 1611, with east at the top of the plan. The former Roman walled city (Lincoln proper) lies on the left side of this plan, separated by the River Witham from on its Wigford suburb; according to Roger of Hoveden and William of Newburgh, it was in the latter suburb beyond the walls that Henry II was crowned, due to the superstition that a king of England may not enter the city of Lincoln. Click the image for a larger view of Speed's plan (image: Cambridge University). 

The first reference to a belief that the king of England ought not to enter the city of Lincoln comes from the fourth version of Henry of Huntingdon's Historia Anglorum (X.25), probably written in 1147, shortly after the event it relates. Henry describes the event as follows:
In the twelfth year, at Christmas [25 December 1146], King Stephen showed himself in the kingly regalia in the city of Lincoln, where no other king—deterred by superstitious persons—had dared to do so. This shows King Stephen possessed great boldness and a spirit that was not fearful of danger.
Needless to say, this is an intriguing statement, particularly given that Henry of Huntingdon was not only a contemporary source, but also a canon of Lincoln cathedral and clearly very familiar with the city and its clergy. As such, it would seem that this must have been a genuine superstition current in mid-twelfth-century Lincoln, and one that previous kings had, in fact, respected. Unfortunately, Henry offers no further details of this superstition, but two late twelfth-century historians from Yorkshire, William of Newburgh and Roger of Howden, pick up the tale and offer some relevant details and incidents. So, William of Newburgh—whose abbey had significant lands in north Lincolnshire—wrote the following expansion of Henry of Huntingdon's passage in 1196–7:
In the twelfth year of his reign, king Stephen having (as before-mentioned) wrested the city of Lincoln from the earl of Chester, was desirous of being solemnly crowned there on Christmas-day, wisely disregarding an ancient superstition, which forbade the kings of England from entering that city. On his proceeding into the town, without the least hesitation, he encountered no sinister omen, as that idle tradition had portended would be the case; but after having solemnized his coronation, he retired from it, after a few days, with joy, and contempt at this superstitious vanity.
This section is best understood as largely derivative of Henry's account and adds little of substance, aside from an apparent clarification of the nature of the superstition, indicating that it did not simply relate to the wearing of a crown in Lincoln, but rather the king of England's entry into the city at all. Perhaps more important, however, is the evidence offered by both William of Newburgh and Roger of Howden for the continuing existence of this superstition at Lincoln into the reigns of Henry II and John. With regard to the former reign, Roger of Howden—who wrote and revised his work between the early 1170s and 1201—offers the following account:
In the year of grace 1158, being the fourth year of the reign of king Henry, son of the empress Matilda, the said king Henry caused himself to be crowned a second time at Lincoln without the walls of the city, at Wikeford.
William of Newburgh relates the same event and suggests that the reason for Henry's crown-wearing outside of Lincoln's walls was the previously mentioned 'ancient superstition':
In the fifth year of his reign, Henry, the illustrious king of England, was solemnly crowned at Lincoln on Christmas-day, not within the walls, indeed, on account, I suppose, of that ancient superstition which king Stephen (as before related) laudably condemned and ridiculed, but in a village adjoining the suburbs.
There are two particular points of interest here. First and foremost, if William is correct, then this would indicate that the superstition not only survived into Henry II's reign, but that Henry II actually indulged it, unlike his immediate predecessor. Second, the place where Henry was crowned outside the walls of the city is named as Wikeford. This name is that of the medieval Lincoln suburb of Wigford, which lies just to the south of both the Witham and the walled town and seems to have seen a notable degree of activity during the Anglo-Scandinavian and medieval periods. As to where in Wigford the crown-wearing took place, it was suggested in the nineteenth century that the church of St Mary-le-Wigford—possibly founded in the second half of the tenth century by the mercantile elite of Lincoln—may have been the site in question. Alternatively, it has been more recently argued that Henry II actually had a royal town-house (hospicium) constructed in the 1150s a little further to the south and away from the city, at St Mary's Guildhall next to St Peter-at-Gowts, and that it was at this newly built and interestingly extramural royal residence that the crown-wearing ceremony took place.

The eleventh-century tower of St Mary-le-Wigford church, Lincoln (photo: C. R. Green)

St Mary's Guildhall & St Peter-at-Gowts in 1784, by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm (image: Wikimedia Commons).

The final probable reference to this superstition comes from Roger of Howden, writing in 1201, who appears to allude to it when describing King John's visit to Lincoln in 1200 to receive the homage of William, king of Scotland:
On the tenth day before the calends of December, being the fourth day of the week, John, king of England, fearlessly, and contrary to the advice of many of his followers, entered the cathedral church of Lincoln, and offered on the altar of St John the Baptist, in the new buildings there, a gold chalice. After this, on the same day, he and William, king of the Scots, met for a conference, outside the city of Lincoln, upon a lofty hill.
Although Roger doesn't mention the 'ancient superstition' explicitly, the fact that John is said to have entered the cathedral—located in the walled Upper City—'fearlessly' and 'contrary to the advice of many of his followers' strongly suggests that the superstition survived to this point and was a matter of concern to some of John's entourage. Moreover, as W. A. B. Coolidge points out, it may also be noteworthy that John subsequently retreated 'outside the city of Lincoln' to a 'lofty hill' to receive the homage of William.

We thus have a rather interesting trail of evidence, suggesting that there was a genuine superstition warning against the king of England entering Lincoln wearing his crown, or perhaps even entering it at all, which was current in at least the 1140s and perhaps continued to carry weight through to the reign of John. As to its origins, these are likely to remain mysterious, although one could speculate whether the story might have something to do with the stories of independent kings of Lincoln and Lindesi that appear in the twelfth-century Havelok tale and other medieval Lincolnshire sources, arguably reflecting a continuing memory in Lincolnshire folklore of the genuine pre-Viking kingdom of Lindissi/Lindsey. Interestingly, two other cities—Leicester and Oxford—are also said to be the subject of similar superstitions, although as these superstitions are only recorded by authors of the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, it might be wondered whether they are not somehow derivative of the Lincoln tradition recorded by Henry of Huntingdon and William of Newburgh.

The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations unless otherwise stated, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2016, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

The Anglo-Saxons abroad? Some early Anglo-Saxon finds from France and East Africa

The following post picks up from the previous one and offers a brief look at Anglo-Saxon objects found outside of the British Isles, primarily in France and Africa. From France, there are now over 300 Anglo-Saxon artefacts recorded, these being mainly distributed along the coast and considered to be at least partly indicative of the settlement of Anglo-Saxons from Britain there in the later fifth to sixth centuries, something supported by documentary references. In contrast, there are only a small number of finds known from other areas such as Switzerland and East Africa, but these are nonetheless intriguing too, not least as they may well come from contemporary contexts.

The distribution of sites producing late fifth- to sixth-century Anglo-Saxon brooches in France, after Soulat, 2009, and Soulat, 2011, plotted against a topographic base-map from Wikimedia Commons (image: C. R. Green).

A sixth-century, square-headed brooch of Kentish type, found in the early medieval cemetery at Herpes-en-Charente, France, see further K. R. Brown et al (eds.), From Attila to Charlemagne: Arts of the Early Medieval Period in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 2000), pp. 284–8 (image: The Met).

The existence of a substantial body of early Anglo-Saxon finds from the coast of France has been known for some time but only occasionally finds mention in works concerned with the early Anglo-Saxon period. This material is mainly distributed along the Channel coast and in Charente-Maritime, on the south-western coast, and recent studies have identified over 300 'Anglo-Saxon' artefacts from these areas, a total that suggests a significant degree of contact and activity. In general, this insular-style 'Anglo-Saxon' material, similar to items found from Kent across to the Isle of Wight, appears to date from the latter part of the fifth century and into the sixth, and has been considered to reflect a mixture of trade, an early medieval 'Channel/Maritime culture', and probably a degree of settlement by insular 'Anglo-Saxons' on the Gallic coast in that era.(1) Certainly, the latter suggestion is one that finds support in the available early textual evidence. So, for example, the mid-sixth-century Byzantine writer Procopius of Caesarea reports that a Frankish embassy to Constantinople in around 548 included 'Angles' amongst the party and that the Merovingian kings claimed jurisdiction over Britain on the basis that Angles from Britain had settled within the Frankish kingdom, bringing with them title to their previous insular homeland:
The island of Brittia is inhabited by three very numerous nations, each having one king over it. And the names of these nations are Angili, Frissones, and Brittones, the last being named from the island itself. And so great appears to be the population of these nations that every year they emigrate thence in large companies with their women and children and go the land of the Franks. And the Franks allow them to settle in the part of their land that appears to be most deserted, and by this means they say that they are winning over the island. Thus it actually happened that not long ago the king of the Franks, in sending some of his intimates on an embassy to the Emperor Justinian in Byzantium, sent with them some of the Angili, thus seeking to establish his claim that this island was ruled by him.(2)
Similarly, the Gallo-Roman aristocrat and bishop Sidonius Apollinaris makes reference in a letter of around 480 to Saxon raiders on the south-western Gallic coast who, after their raids, set their sails 'for the voyage home from the continent', which suggests that they too could have been based in Britain. The letter in question was addressed to his friend Namatius, who was serving as a naval and army officer on the coast of Visigothic Aquitaine and tasked with dealing with these Saxon raiders. and Sidonius Apollinaris warns him there to be on his guard, as the Saxons are not only skilled brigands and brutal enemies, but on taking their leave of the continent are
accustomed on the eve of departure to kill one in ten of their prisoners by drowning or crucifixion... distributing to the collected band of doomed men the iniquity of death by the equity of the lot.(3
Needless to say, Anglo-Saxon finds of this era are not simply confined to the modern French coast. Anglo-Saxon brooches and pottery of similar types and date are, for example, found in significant numbers in Belgium as well, with brooches recorded from sites such as Tournai and Broechem (Ranst), indicating that the above 'Channel culture' and Anglo-Saxon influence was present in this part of coastal Merovingian Gaul too.(4) Away from the Channel and Atlantic coast, the number of finds of insular Anglo-Saxon material culture declines markedly, but there are nonetheless still some intriguing finds and findspots. Within Europe, two are of particular interest, namely an intriguing lead great square-headed brooch found at Geneva, Switzerland,(5) and an Anglo-Saxon cruciform brooch of the first half of the sixth century discovered in the nineteenth century in south-eastern France near to Castelnaudary, Aude.

No details are recorded of the exact circumstances of the latter find, but other 'barbarian' material of the same era is recorded from the area around Castelnaudary, which may well be significant. Also of potential interest are the stylistic affinities of this cruciform brooch, with only three other examples of this specific type—Toby Martin's type 3.1.2—known, from Suffolk and Lincolnshire, and the general distribution of cruciform brooches with similar terminals being concentrated in the Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire area.(6) As to quite how such a brooch found its way to south-eastern France, this must remain a matter of speculation, but it is worth noting that there is some other evidence for Anglo-Saxons in the Mediterranean area during Late Antiquity. There were, after all, Angles amongst the c. 548 delegation to Constantinople that was mentioned above, and Bede (Historia Ecclesiastica, II.1) furthermore reports that Gregory the Great encountered Angles from the Northumbrian kingdom of Deira—roughly the area of modern Yorkshire—in the slave market at Rome during the second half of the sixth century. As such, the Castelnaudary brooch is not wholly without a context, particularly given that it too dates from the sixth-century; has clear stylistic links to items found in the traditionally 'Anglian' areas of Suffolk, Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire; and was recovered from a site that lies in the Carcassonne Gap, one of the chief ancient overland routes between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

An Anglo-Saxon cruciform brooch of the first half of the sixth century, found at Castelnaudary, Aude, south-eastern France (image: Barrière-Flavy, 1893)

Two apparently early Anglo-Saxon or Frankish beads found at Kisiju and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; original shaded image converted to colour using key provided (original image: J. R. Harding/ADS, used under their non-commercial license, colourized by C. R. Green). 

Looking even further afield, there have been somewhat later finds of Anglo-Saxon coins made from Italy and Spain, and a Late Saxon strap-end has been excavated from an early to mid-tenth-century level at Riurikovo Gorodishche, near Novgorod, Russia, which is virtually identical to examples from Whitby Abbey and has been considered indicative of the presence of an Anglo-Saxon travelling to the Byzantine Empire along the 'way from the Greeks to the Varangians'.(7) The most far-flung potentially Anglo-Saxon finds were not discovered in Europe, however, but instead in Africa. In particular, a small number of beads have been found in Sudan and on the coast of Tanzania, at Dar es Salaam and Kisiju, which appear to be identical in both form and manufacture to early Anglo-Saxon or Frankish beads and are closely comparable to examples of these in the British Museum. Of course, the very close resemblance of these items to early Anglo-Saxon or Frankish beads could be put down to a notable coincidence, but Harding, Chami and other researchers studying East Africa concur with D. M. Wilson, D. B. Harden and Richard Hodges that these beads aren't local products but rather Anglo-Saxon or Frankish in origin, and furthermore consider it credible that they arrived on the Tanzanian coast in or around the era that they were manufactured. Certainly, the sites from which these beads were recovered are believed to be early trading areas on the Tanzanian coast, occupied from perhaps the first century AD and centered in a region where other trade-goods of the fifth- to sixth-century are found, and Graeco-Roman sources moreover indicate that the central coast of East Africa was the location for settlements connected to the ongoing Indian Ocean trade. In fact, Rhapta, the most southerly emporium visited by Graeco-Roman traders and mentioned by both the Roman-era Periplus of the Erythraean Sea and Ptolemy's Geography, is often considered to have been located in just this area, which is arguably a point of some considerable significance, particularly as the Graeco-Roman trade down the Red Sea and into the Indian Ocean seems to have continued into the sixth century AD on the basis of the testimony of the Byzantine traveller Cosmas Indicopleustes, who apparently travelled to Ethiopia and possibly India too in that era.(8)

In considering quite how these early Anglo-Saxon or Frankish beads might have found there way to trading sites in East Africa, it is worth recalling that early Anglo-Saxon England and Merovingian Gaul both saw imports via the eastern Mediterranean of a number of materials that ultimately originated in Africa and India, including cowrie shell (from the Red Sea or Indian Ocean), amethyst (probably India or possibly Egypt/Ethiopia?), garnet (India), sapphire (Sri Lanka), elephant ivory (Africa or India), and also pepper (India) and incense (Horn of Africa/Arabia) by the time of Aldhelm and Bede.(9) As such, it certainly doesn't seem impossible that these beads could have travelled back along the same trade routes that brought these items to north-western Europe from the eastern Mediterranean and that they were subsequently carried into East Africa via the routes linking the Graeco-Roman world and East Africa/India. Furthermore, Joan Harding has suggested that, given their comparative rarity, these beads might even have been personal possessions carried by a small number of individuals from Anglo-Saxon England or Gaul who chose to travel back along this same trade route, which is a most intriguing conclusion in the present context.(10)

Map of the Roman-era Periplus of the Erythraean Sea with the three locations producing Anglo-Saxon/Frankish beads marked with stars; the location of Rhapta has been updated from the original map as per Chami, 1994; for a larger version of this map, click here (image: C. R. Green, modified from a map on Wikimedia Commons by George Tsiagalakis, CC-BY-SA-4).

The distribution of imported amethyst (stars) and cowrie shell (circles) in early Anglo-Saxon England; the former probably originated in India and the latter either in the Red Sea or the Indian Ocean (image: C. R. Green).


1     See, for example, M. Welch, 'An early entente cordiale? Cross-Channel connections in the Anglo-Saxon period', Archaeology International, 4 (2000), 28–30; J. Soulat, Le Matériel de Type Saxon et Anglo-Saxon en Gaule Mérovingienne (Paris, 2009); S. Fischer & J. Soulat, 'Runic Swords and Raw Materials – Anglo-Saxon Interaction with Northern Gaul', Vitark, 7 (2009), 72–9; J. Soulat, 'La présence Saxonne et Anglo-Saxonne sur le littoral de la Manche', in S. Lebecq et al (eds.), Quentovic: Environnement, Archéologie, Histoire (Lille, 2010), pp. 147–63; J. Soulat, 'Trois fibules de type Anglo-Saxon datant du VIe siècle provenant de la collection Diergardt du musée d'Archéologie nationale', Antiquités Nationales, 42 (2011), 101–09; J. Soulat et al, 'Hand-made pottery along the Channel coast and parallels with the Scheldt valley', in R. Annaert et al (eds.), ACE Conference Brussels: The Very Beginning of Europe? Early-Medieval Migration and Colonisation (Bruxelles, 2012), pp. 215–24; S. Harrington & M. Welch, The Early Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms of Southern Britain AD 450650: Beneath the Tribal Hidage (Oxford, 2014), p. 179.
2     Procopius, History of the Wars, VIII.xx.7–10, trans. H. B. Dewing, Procopius, Vol. V: History of the Wars, Books VII and VIII (London, 1962), pp. 252–5.
3     Sidonius Apollinaris, Letters, VIII.6, trans W. B. Anderson, Sidonius, Vol. II: Letters 3–9 (London, 1965), p. 431. See, for example, N. J. Higham & M. J. Ryan, The Anglo-Saxon World (New Haven & London, 2013), p. 76, for the view that these Saxons were potentially based in Britain.
4     Soulat et al, 'Hand-made pottery along the Channel coast and parallels with the Scheldt valley'; Fischer & Soulat, 'Runic Swords and Raw Materials – Anglo-Saxon Interaction with Northern Gaul', pp. 72, 76; H. Hamerow et al, 'Migration period settlements and “Anglo-Saxon” pottery from Flanders', Medieval Archaeology, 38 (1994), 1–18.
5     Discussed recently by John Hines, in A New Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Great Square-Headed Brooches (Woodbridge, 1997), p. 206, and Kevin Leahy in 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 2004', Medieval Archaeology, 49 (2005), 323–473 at pp.337–41.
6     C. Barrière-Flavy, Étude sur les sépultures barbares du Midi et de l'ouest de la France (Tolouse/Paris, 1893), pp. 52, 131, and pl. IV.2; J. P. Gil, 'A crossroads of cultures in a mosaic of regions? The early Visigothic regnum from the perspective of small finds', Archaeologia Baltica, 18 (2012), 109–23 at p. 119; and T. Martin, pers. comm.. For the three other examples of cruciform brooch type 3.1.2, see T. Martin, A Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Cruciform Brooches, Archaeology Data Service (2015), online at, and the following records: British Museum 1927,1212.21; British Museum 1971,0901.1; and Portable Antiquities Scheme NLM-58E945. See further T. Martin, The Cruciform Brooch and Anglo-Saxon England (Woodbridge, 2015), p. 47; T. Martin, Identity and the Cruciform Brooch in Early Anglo-Saxon England: An Investigation of Style, Mortuary Context, and Use, 4 vols. (University of Sheffield PhD Thesis, 2011), I.57, 135, 149.
7     J. Shepard, 'From the Bosporus to the British Isles: the way from the Greeks to the Varangians', Drevnejshie Gosudarstva Vostochnoi Evropy, 2009 (Moscow, 2010), pp. 15–42 at pp. 24–5.
8     O. G. S. Crawford et alThe Welcome Excavations in the Sudan, volume III: Abu Geili and Saqadi & Dar el Mek (London, 1951), p. 72; J. R. Harding, 'Two Frankish beads from the coast of Tanganyika', Medieval Archaeology, 4 (1960), 126–7; J. R. Harding, 'On some crucible and associated finds from the coast of Tanganyika', Man, 60 (1960), 136–9 at p. 138; J. R. Harding, 'Glass beads and early trading posts on the east coast of Africa', South African Archaeological Bulletin, 33 (1978), 3–4; F. Chami, The Tanzanian Coast in the First Millennium AD (Uppsala, 1994), pp. 25–6, 32, 95–8; F. Chami and E. T. Kessy, 'Archaeological Work at Kisiju, Tanzania, 1994', Nyame Akuma, 43 (1995), 38–45. Note, the beads were examined and identified by both D. B. Harden, an ancient glass specialist and director of the London Museum/Museum of London, and D. M. Wilson, Anglo-Saxon archaeologist and subsequently director of the British Museum, who are cited by Harding, Chami and Crawford; the identification is also supported by Richard Hodges, who considers them Anglo-Saxon, as does Barbara Green: R. Hodges, The Anglo-Saxon Achievement: Archaeology & the Beginnings of English Society (London, 1989), p. 9; B. Green, cited in P. Wade-Martins, Excavations in North Elmham Park, 1967–1972, East Anglian Archaeology Report no. 9, 2 vols. (Gressenhall, 1980), vol. II, p. 262. On Cosmas Indicopleustes and mid-sixth-century Graeco-Roman contacts with Africa and India, see for example S. Faller, 'The world according to Cosmas Indicopleustes – concepts and illustrations of an Alexandrian merchant and monk', Transcultural Studies, 1 (2011), 193–232.
9     See, for example, J. Drauschke, 'Byzantine Jewellery? Amethyst beads in East and West during the early Byzantine period', in C. Entwistle & N. Adams (eds.), 'Intelligible Beauty': Recent Research on Byzantine Jewellery (London, 2010), pp. 50–60 at pp. 51–2, and also J. Huggett, 'Imported grave goods and the early Anglo-Saxon economy', Medieval Archaeology, 32 (1988), 63–96; Higham and Ryan, The Anglo-Saxon World, p. 147; K. S. Beckett, Anglo-Saxon Perceptions of the Islamic World (Cambridge, 2003), pp. 60–8; and L. Webster, 'Bone and ivory carving', in M. Lapidge et al (eds.), The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England, 2nd edn. (Oxford, 2014).
10     Harding, 'Two Frankish beads from the coast of Tanganyika', p. 127. Another suggestion, tentatively raised in Crawford et alThe Welcome Excavations in the Sudan, volume III, p. 72, is that Anglo-Saxon and Frankish beads could have been made in Egypt and the Sudanese and Tanzanian examples could therefore represent the same products exported southwards. This seems implausible, however, given the rarity of such finds in Africa, and recent research on Anglo-Saxon glass beads furthermore strongly indicates that whilst raw glass for bead-making was imported from the Near East in the post-Roman period, fifth- and sixth-century Anglo-Saxon beads were themselves manufactured in England: see J. R. N. Peake, Early Anglo-Saxon Glass Beads: Composition and Origins Based on the Finds from RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, 2 volumes (Cardiff University D.Phil Thesis, 2013).

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