University of Oxford

Follow us @OxfordASPIRE

This is an archive site and is not updated. It represents works conducted by Oxford University Museums funded by Arts Council England between 2012-2018. For information about our current work please visit

Anglo Saxons in Oxfordshire

23 September 13 -- jsuess
This post is by Gill Munday, Museums Learning and Access Manager, Oxfordshire Museums Service. The work described is funded by Arts Council England through Oxford ASPIRE.

Back at the end of July, visitors to The Oxfordshire Museum traveled back to Anglo-Saxon times for a great family day out. To coincide with National Archaeology Fortnight, we celebrated the opening of a new exhibition at the museum - Inspiring Archaeology: Treasures of the Romans and Saxons.

This community exhibition features art, literacy and design works that have been inspired by two rare archaeological finds discovered in Oxfordshire. The Hanney Brooch is an exquisite garnet and gold brooch which had been buried for almost 1,500 years. It was discovered in West Hanney along with the skeleton of a woman aged in her mid-20s who is thought to be of high social status. Then from Roman times, the recently restored Alchester tombstone was on display for the first time alongside a full sized replica of the tombstone as it would once have been. This is the tombstone of  Lucius Valerius Geminus - a veteran of the Second Augustan Legion – and is the first known biography of any person to have lived in the county. Its discovery was an accident;  smashed to pieces and used as part of a wall it was found during the excavation of Alchester's town gates, near Bicester, in 2003.

We were thoroughly entertained by Regia Anglorum, who set up camp for the day; these living history warriors  were great fun, if not a little scary. The Yarnsmith of Norwich entertained us from his tent with his tall tales (have you heard a donkey sneeze?). Some beautiful silver jewellery, inspire by the Hanney brooch, was created in the morning workshop with artist Helen Jacobs and some impressive printing was made by families in the afternoon. Visitors could also examine and learn more about the archaeology found locally in conversation with county conservator Sarah Morton and archaeologist Chris Ferguson.

Some of the comments from the public below testify to the enjoyment of the day:

"Three generations enjoying a lovely new experience"

"Such a great activity! Even adults (parents) enjoyed having a go! It is fundamental for children to have this experience, fun, learn, artistic development"

"I really enjoyed the stories, they were brilliant and clever. I also liked the carving and the fighting"

"The whole experience has been great. The storyteller was fantastic"