Anglo Saxon Centre located below the Angles cafe.
Saxon Centre below cafe

The Anglo-Saxon Centre
at West Stow


Picture Page 2

Early Anglo-Saxon Ways of Life

Click images to enlarge

This painting of the Village and its setting, as it might have been around 550 AD, hangs in the Centre exhibition area. Painted by Jackie Cotton.

This imaginary diagram of the Village tries to illustrate how the village may have sat in its early landscape. One of the Icknield Way tracks ran to the west, and is still visible today. A Roman road ran from Icklingham eastwards, but was further north than the present road line. Bricks were still being made from claypits off this old road in the early 20th century. Similar villages were set up all along the Lark valley, some as close as perhaps 500 metres to each other. Farming was the lifeblood of each village, but some individuals developed their own craft specialisms to produce surpluses for trade.

Reconstruction of an early Anglo-Saxon plough. A short iron blade gave added life to the implement. Spelt wheat, barley, rye and bread wheat were all cultivated. Vegetables were raised, along with hens and pigs. Sheep were kept on the drier slopes, and cattle reared in the damp water meadows by the river. Horses, goats, dogs and cats also shared their lives, but there was no evidence of rats.

West Stow villagers had to clothe themselves as well as feed themselves. Weaving looms were in use, as shown by the loom weights found in several buildings. Two loom weights are illustrated here. Also these spindle whorls show that raw wool was spun into yarn by hand before weaving could take place.

This picture shows the remains of an iron spoon-bit. A reconstruction shown here illustrates how it originally looked. It was used to bore holes in timbers as part of the building of a house or other woodwork.

Anglo-Saxon homes had doorlatches which could be opened from outside by the use of these "keys". Made of antler and bone, they folded so they could pass through a small hole in the door, then fall open to lift the latch mechanism.

Weld used as a dye produces different colours depending upon the mordant used. A mordant is a substance used to set dyes on fabrics.

Examples of wool dyed by madder and by woad.

Modern woven sampler to show use of other natural dyes on wool.

Re-enactors wearing dyed clothes as probably worn by higher status individuals within the village. The lady in the centre is spinning yarn using a spindle. This view is from inside one of the reconstructed houses.

A selection of combs found at West Stow. These combs are made from carved and carefully cut bone. Usually, thin individual layers of bone were rivetted together to give the comb its strength. The remains of 120 combs were found during the excavations, and this may indicate that a small workshop or factory was producing them for trade purposes.

Two metal dieplates from Icklingham. The larger has 6 dragons with interlaced bodies, legs and beaks. The smaller has two interlaced snakes.

Various bronze fittings for a ceremonial feasting bucket.

Some iron objects, including saw blades, timber fixings and shears.

A bucket mount from West Stow cemetery, and a toy bone whistle from Bury St Edmunds. The bucket mount has two in-turned beaked heads, a common motif at this time.

Sleeve fittings from Mildenhall, showing beaked heads in gilded bronze. Also shown is an ornate wrist clasp, all part of a set.

Object 3 is a bronze terminal in the shape of a stylised boar's head from Icklingham. Number 8 is a gilt bronze and garnet belt buckle set from Eriswell.

Anglo-Saxon pot shards

Early pottery from the site was decorated by finger pressure. Later on it became fashionable to use stamped motifs using incised bone or antler stamps. Five of these are from West Stow and one from lakenheath.

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