The Cruciform Brooch and Anglo-Saxon England

The Cruciform Brooch and Anglo-Saxon England

Toby F. Martin


Boydell Press



Examination and analysis of one of the most important artefacts of Anglo-Saxon society, the cruciform brooch, setting it in a wider context.
Cruciform brooches were large and decorative items of jewellery, frequently used to pin together women's garments in pre-Christian northwest Europe. Characterised by the strange bestial visages that project from the feet of these dress and cloak fasteners, cruciform brooches were especially common in eastern England during the 5th and 6th centuries AD. For this reason, archaeologists have long associated them with those shadowy tribal originators of the English: the Angles of the Migration period.
This book provides a multifaceted, holistic and contextual analysis of more than 2,000 Anglo-Saxon cruciform brooches. It offers a critical examination of identity in Early Medieval society, suggesting that the idea of being Anglian in post-Roman Britain was not a primordial, tribal identity transplanted from northern Germany, but was at least partly forged through the repeated, prevalent use of dress and material culture. Additionally, the particular women that were buried with cruciform brooches, and indeed their very funerals, played an important role in the process. These ideas are explored through a new typology and an updated chronology for cruciform brooches, alongside considerations of their production, exchange and use. The author also examines their geographical distribution through time and their most common archaeological contexts: the inhumation and cremation cemeteries of early Anglo-Saxon England.

Dr Toby Martin is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Archaeology, Oxford University.


March 2015
5 colour, 58 black and white, 44 line illustrations
406 pages
24.4x17.2 cm
Anglo-Saxon Studies
ISBN: 9781843839934
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC SOC003000, HIS037010
Share on Facebook   Share on Twitter   Pin it   Share by Email

Related Titles

Table of Contents

The Anglian Brooch par excellence
A New Typology for Cruciform Brooches
Building a Chronological Framework
Cycles of Exchange and Production
Migrants, Angles and Petty Kings
Bearers of Tradition
Cruciform Brooches, Anglo-Saxon England and Beyond
Appendix 1: Cruciform Brooches by Type
Appendix 2: Cruciform Brooches by Location
Appendix 3: A Guide to Fragment Classification


A magisterial analysis that can be commended to anyone with an interest in the relationships Between material culture, society and our understanding of the past, as well as all readers interested in the emergence of Anglo-Saxon identities. ANTIQUITY

Produced to a high standard and illustrated with good quality images and tables...this important publication will remain a fundamental reference for early Anglo-Saxon studies. MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY

A brilliant example of how archaeological analysis is conducted today, technically and interpretively. SAXON

Author Bio

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Archaeology, Oxford University.

Also in Series