*This essay was presented Arthur Percival at the Fleur De Lis Centre (a Heritage Centre) in Faversham on 7th May 2005 and to the library on the same day. The essay below remains the copyright of Annette Brooker.*
**Illustrations within this blog are to follow shortly.**
Anglo-Saxon Settlements Study Annette Brooker
Faversham - a Royal Town
Faversham is a quiet backwater of a town, but bustling and busy on market days in the market place by the old guildhall; known for its former industries: oysters, boat building and gunpowder manufacture, nothing outwardly exists now to suggest that it was a royal town. A car park and a swimming pool cover the King’s Field, not known to most; yet the King's Field at Faversham was considered by some historians as the richest Anglo-Saxon cemetery in all England.
Lord Harlech, in his Ancient Monuments vol II (1936), writes, "The magnificent collection of Kentish jewellery and other objects from Faversham now in the British Museum attests the superiority in design and craftsmanship of such articles in the possession of the dwellers in east Kent over those in other parts of England at that time." (Latter half of 6th C.) (Page 32).
Of the 20 superbly crafted 7th century large round gold and garnet composite disc brooches found in the country, mostly Kent, one from Faversham can be seen in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. These would be worn by the ruling classes; gold and silver being comparatively rare, and the garnets originating from India or Bohemia.
The finds represented a large, rich society, in all probability associated with the documented royal settlement there.
Consider the princely finds of a ‘ring sword’, a set of draughtsmen, a bronze coptic bowl imported from Egypt (similar to the one found at Sutton Hoo), and the gilt harness of a buried horse, and several hundreds of gold, silver or gilt and bejewelled items of adornment. Swords had garnets in pommels and their straps, there was a gold-handled knife, there were ornate gold buckles, and someone was buried with crescent shaped silver gilt appliqués on their clothing. Another find was the gold head-dress’s wavy bands. In all, there were 600 graves.
Who were these people?
Luxury goods are also reflected in the glass finds, where the largest amount of fine Anglo-Saxon glassware concentrated in one place was Faversham (at least 68 items); showing it to be a settlement inhabited by the wealthiest aristocratic Anglo-Saxons.
The very name King's Field suggests that it was so, and if all the Faversham treasures were held together in one place it would certainly be considered by most as a sumptuous royal site at its height in the 6th-7th centuries AD. In a charter of 814 A.D. granting some part of land called Westwood, believed to be Faversham, there is a reference to the “King’s cow land”.
In 811, it is described in a charter as "the King's town called Fefresham." in which was granted by King Coenwulf to Wulfred, Archbishop of Canterbury, two plough-lands in Hunincgland at Grafonea.
In 892, when Alfred divided the kingdom into counties and their subdivisions Faversham was given its name to the Hundred.
King Aethelstan, (grandson of Alfred the Great), who reigned from 924 - 939, held a Witengamot there in 930, when he held court with his great council of clergy and wise men, to enact laws and methods of observing them.
Even for a century before 930, Faversham had been called "The king's little town".
Aethelstan, crowned at Kingston upon Thames, claimed authority over the whole of Britain in his title of king of the English, ruler of all Britain; yet a list of places he is known to have held court were nearly all in Southern Britain, suggesting that he rarely left his hereditary West Saxon kingdom. Faversham is among the 23 councils mentioned.
In 1147, King Stephen, the Conqueror's daughter's son founded a Clunaic abbey here in Faversham. He endowed the abbey with the manor and the Hundred at Faversham, and when Stephen died at Dover, after waging war with Queen Matilda, he was buried here at his abbey. There is also a priory at Davington built for the nuns, (of 1153) and the priory, and the remains of the abbey, both Benedictine, can still be seen.
In the 13th century, a corporate seal was made for the town bearing the inscription: "Regis ut arma rego libera portus ego" "since at my own expense I provide his armament I am the king's port." This was under Edward I, but Faversham had royal favour for many years before.
Faversham became a member of the Cinque port federation due to its links with the Creek and Watling Street.
The name Faversham is believed to mean the "homestead of the smith", which comes from the Old English faefer, derived from the Latin faber - metal worker, and ham - home /village. Metalworking was probably happening there since Roman times, and continued under the Anglo-Saxons.
It appears in a document of 811 as Fefresham, and in 1086 as Faversham. (Ferrum, Latin for iron is similar sounding to Fefresham).
Alternatively, it may be a name derived from a personal name and ham.
Another Old English word Hamm is East Friesian for "land drained by dykes", so this is also possible for Faversham marshes, some of which are called Ham Marshes.
The origin of The Swale may be from the Anglo-Saxon swellars to swell.
The site itself: Faversham lies about 2 miles to the north side of Watling Street; (-the paved Roman road so named because it passed through the Hertfordshire tract of land, home of the tribe called Waeclings. From Waeclinga , it became Waetlinga; the Roman via strata became stret or straet). Or it could be from the Saxon word Atheling - Noble way, to Wathing, then Watling. Watling Street formed a great highway to London and beyond from the Channel ports and outlying towns.
En route from Dover to the borders of Surrey were early place names and Roman cemeteries; one Roman settlement was south west of Faversham at Ospringe, where a Romano British cemetery was discovered. It was at a point where the Canterbury - Rochester part of Watling Street crossed a navigable inlet of the Swale, which separates Sheppey from the rest of Kent.
The remains of a Roman villa was found in Faversham in 1965; reckoned to be part of a Romano-British farm estate, (which had been built by and over an Iron Age ditched enclosure).
There was fertile soil on either side of Watling Street, and plenty of water at Ospringe, Sittingbourne and at other springs. The springs occur where the chalk and clay meet, so these were amongst the first places to be occupied.
There is a coastal path called the Saxon Shore Way, which is 140 miles along from Gravesend to Rye, so named from the Roman fortifications against any Saxon invasion; it follows the Swale channel and it goes through Faversham.
However, the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Faversham is slightly off the Roman road; living too near the road might have been dangerous during the disruptive period of barbarian invasion. Their pattern of settlement was determined by the landscape: the Anglo-Saxons preferred the low ground and valleys where water was, for their settlement, and the Roman road was often on higher ground.
There was plenty of water in the U shaped creek of the Swale. Bede writing of England says, "it is remarkable also for rivers abounding in fish, and plentiful springs. It has the greatest plenty of salmon and eels ....There is also a great abundance of cockles, of which the scarlet dye is made; a most beautiful colour which never fades with the heat of the sun or the washing of the rain; but the older it is the more beautiful it becomes."
The land needed for crops was well drained, easily cultivated soil, and that region of Kent has highly fertile ground (grade 1 and grade 2 agricultural land) which is why Brogdale, just outside the town, is where orchards of the National Fruit Collection flourish. (Incidentally Brogdale, Faversham was actually recorded as the hottest place in the UK in 2003 at 101.3F proving that it is a very sheltered spot.) The geological map shows that the northern uplands of the North Kent Plain had alluvial clay, brick earth, sand and gravel which made for rich pasturelands and fertile soils suitable for arable crops, especially around Faversham.
The Jutish Kent Pagan Burial map shows settlement along the North Downs and following the coast line.
The craftsworkers needed wood in their furnaces for their forges. A lot of natural woodland would have reclaimed the land from the Roman agricultural settlement in the richer heavier clays, and then there were the marshes of North Kent, which created a boundary of sorts.
Edward Jacob writing in his "A history of the Town and Port of Faversham in the county of Kent" (1774) says Faversham is "in a fruitful part of the country, nine miles from Canterbury and forty from London; it principally consists of four long spacious and well paved streets forming a somewhat irregular crofs, in the center whereof stands a convenient market place, over which is the guildhall; it contains about four hundred and sixty houses, occupied by two thousand five hundred inhabitants."(p 1.)
Faversham appears on the 1770 map as a nucleated settlement, tightly concentrated around the harbour and market right opposite there, and an outlying rectangular field system. In the map from Jacob’s 1774 book, there are the four main streets of settlement, with the King's Field Anglo-Saxon cemetery just outside the settlement going on towards Watling Street.
Pagan cemeteries in the South-East are often dated to settlements established at around the end of the 6th century.
The road opposite the church descends to Faversham Creek, the small port that has wharves made of imported timber, and where shipping and trade was important. Because of Kent's strategic importance for trade to Europe, the craftspeople of Kent were producing goods of a high quality, especially metalwork, and exporting them, and importing from the Rhineland, North Gaul and elsewhere, and Kent flourished into a prosperous region. At its height there must have been some stability when Kent was ruled by King Wihtred, (r. 695 -725) noted for piety; Faversham was particularly so blessed with its luxurious finds. After all, it had the best farming land, fishing, trade and metalworking, and possibly glass manufacture.
Whether or not it was built at Faversham, the area has a 10th century Anglo-Saxon boat or ship, found nearby in the marshes at Graveney, timbers of which were preserved in the mud, which makes it a unique example of a coastal estuary boat for that period found in England. It is round hulled and clinker built, similar to ones found in northern Europe before 1200.
It appears that the Roman roads were being used during the Anglo-Saxon time, because Saxon remains were found along their courses. The Roman road often became the recognisable dividing line of a parish boundary, between the Anglo-Saxon estates, when boundaries were being developed, and in this case it stretches for a mile separating the parish of Faversham in the north from adjoining Ospringe.
Ospringe lies in the Hundred of Faversham but as a separate parish in the West /East division of Kent. (See parish map).
In addition, Davington is within the hundred of Faversham. (There was a Roman cemetery at Davington Hill, where among the urns and other vessels were found some coins dating from Vespasian to Gratian.)
In a charter of 962 AD it is called Danitune or Daniton (village of the Danes?).
The Kentings. This is an Old English word for the Kent people - those natives and settlers of around 450 to 490 A.D. when Hengist died, -whom Bede referred to as "the Jutes" in his Ecclesiastical History of England, who lived in small communities on the coast between Margate and Dover, and inland on the riversides of the Stour, Medway and the Darent. Germanic military equipment in some graves seems to suggest that the Jutes arrived as former soldiers of Rome, possibly mercenaries, or they came as refugee farmers.
From Kentish artefacts, it appears that the Cantii tribe of Kent were not entirely expelled or overrun by the Jutes, as some styles hark back to Celtic patterns. (See picture of Celtic style dolphin bowl mounts). Another Celtic derivation is the Anglo-Saxon two-edged sword.
From the Gibbs catalogue of Faversham artefacts it seems that a strong Romano-British element survived, there were Roman pots and other Roman items still in use.
However, by the end of the 5th century A.D. those who lived in Southern and Eastern England had similar dress and burial customs to their Germanic counterparts. Some say the culture seems more in affinity with the Rhineland Saxon culture; possibly, the Jutes came to Kent indirectly through the Rhineland from their original home in North Germany and the North Sea peninsula. (R.F. Jessup, p219). Coptic bowls were found in Faversham and these are distributed along the Rhine across to Italy, but the square headed bow brooches found there are like Southern Danish types.
5th century pottery in Kent is similar to that found in Jutland or Frisia, which bears out Bede’s history. (The Romans had employed Frisian mercenaries on Hadrian’s Wall).
The Romano-British population must have integrated with the Anglo-Saxon newcomers, either as slaves or by adopting their new ideas and customs so that in time they became fully integrated. Walmer in Kent means sea coast of the Weallas - Slaves.
There are round brooches from Faversham that seem influenced by Frankish art, but they are made to an advanced technique that goes beyond Frankish or Roman designs.
Some objects of Frankish origin were found in Faversham, such as the early 6th century gold handled knife, with the Chi-rho symbol of Christ on the base; they could be imports from North Gaul and the lower Rhine, but then the Franks might have joined the Jutes in settlement of Kent.
(The monogram is the first 2 Greek letters of the name of Christ and it was reputed to have appeared to Constantine in a dream; it preceded the cross as the common symbol of Christianity). Former Romano Gallic provinces retained their beliefs, hence the symbolism.
It is suggested that the Kentish culture has affinities with that of the Vendels of eastern Scandinavia. (R. F. Jessup p.215. The archaeology of Kent), because some jewellery reflects the Scandinavian connections of the Jutes in the late 5th century, with the cruciform brooches, and others with designs of mythical creatures, intertwining serpents, animal and bird motifs.
C Roach Smith writes (p xv of the Gibbs catalogue): “ At the back of some of these fibulae (brooches) Mr Haigh has detected runes (ZU) faintly scratched. He suggests the Zu or Su may be the initials of Swoef, a badge of the race of Swaefas or Jutlingas.”
With the arrival of St. Augustine and his missionaries at Ebbsfleet on the Kentish coast in 597 AD, (welcomed by King Aethelbert of Kent and his Christian Merovingian Frankish wife Bertha), the spread of Christianity, which was not completely lost with the pagan Jutes, was
resurgent at around 600 A.D.
Augustine reported that 10,000 people were baptised on Christmas Day 597. Bede mentions the baptism of St Paulinus, in the Sualua. (The Swale?)
The early church encouraged learning and writing. Contacts with southern Europe, lost after the Romans left Britain, were restored. It meant improvements in metal work and trade. Goods imported included bronze Coptic bowls from France and Germany, wheel-turned pottery from France with wine (sometimes found in male graves) and oil, and glassware from the Rhineland. Large cowrie shells from the Indian Ocean were found at Faversham, (and precious stones like amethysts found their way there too, when central Europeans had begun to trade with the Orient).
The pagan form of burying goods with the person gradually stopped with the spread of Christianity, so after about 725 A.D. the archaeology ceases to show grave goods.
By the 8th century A.D. the Anglo-Saxons had settled along the coast and valleys of Kent, and at that time the whole population of Kent had probably increased to about 50,000. Bede writes, "On the east of Kent is the large Isle of Thanet, containing according to the English way of reckoning, 600 families."
Ancient Buildings: A story exists that the Swan Inn stands on the site of the house of two Roman Christians, Crispin and Crispanus, shoemakers who had fled there to escape from Diocletian's persecution. St. Crispin became a Roman saint, and this made Faversham a holy place, and pilgrims flocked to St. Crispin's altar, long before Canterbury became a place of pilgrimage.
There is evidence of some Romano-British buildings surviving into the Anglo-Saxon era. (It is still possible to see parts of a Roman painted house in Dover).
Asser wrote of King Alfred c 886 AD, "What shall I say of the cities and towns which he restored.... of the royal vills constructed of stone, removed from their site, and handsomely rebuilt." Augustine is also reputed to have rebuilt ruined churches.
The church of St Mary of Charity dates back to Roman times; it has arcades of Roman brick, though it may have been a temple then.
Pope Gregory wrote to the Abbot Mellitus in 601 AD, "the temples of the idols in that nation (English) ought not to be destroyed; let holy water be made and sprinkled in the said temples, let altars be erected and relics placed."
Roman buildings were sometimes re-used as churches, instead of demolishing them, and in the Anglo-Saxon churches, bricks, tiles and rubble were sometimes re-used from the Roman ruins;
St. Mary’s is built like "the remains of a grandly scaled Saxon church" (N. Pevsner, p 311). This church has a Norman west end, a 13th century chancel and 14th century frescoes.
Nearby in Preston, (place of the priest’s farmstead), the church of St. Catherine with its flint exterior has a small fragment of a Saxon shaft with interlace in its sculpture.
Davington Parish Church, built next to a Benedictine priory founded in 1153, is the oldest extant building in Faversham; a large part of it was demolished in 1535, leaving just the nave and north aisle.
There is an ancient church at Stone, west of Ospringe, desecrated and ruined, but Roman material alternating with square tufa blocks imply it could well be of Saxon origin.
The oldest street is Abbey Street, - a row of 16th to 18th century houses strung along like a necklace. Another ancient street, Court Street, used to be the site for Lammas fairs and St. Valentine's Day fairs. (St. Valentine was a Roman saint).
The Market Place in the centre has a Guildhall dated at 1574; this area has Tudor and some medieval buildings. The Market is mentioned in the Domesday Book (see Documents); Court Street and Abbey Street connect the market to the port at Faversham Creek by the Standard Quay for trading.
Street names include Saxon Road, Roman Road, Briton Road and Aethelstan Road, Ethelbert Road, Ethelred Court, Kings North Road, Kings Road, Queens Road.
There were a number of rest houses at convenient intervals along Watling Street to Beckett's shrine at Canterbury; one of them being the Maison Dieu at Ospringe. It was a hospital and a rest place founded in 1235 AD by King Henry III. This may have had earlier connections with the pilgrims who journeyed to St. Crispin's altar at Faversham.
The Faversham abbey had been magnificent, with black Tournai marble structures and carved wooden misericords.
The abbey and priory, like Maison Dieu, were despoiled during the Dissolution, but they were central to the livelihood of Faversham and their closure finally put the lid on Faversham’ s decline.
Discoveries were made of the Jutish Anglo-Saxon settlements at the ancient cemetery of the King’s Field when the Chatham to Dover railway was being built from 1858 on; the richest Saxon field ever found to that point.
The finds were spectacular and attracted all sorts of rich Victorians with their bags of pennies who bought them from the navvies for their private collections or auction, as they came out of the ground, and it seems that little or no documentation was done at the time. (See appendix for a later 1870 catalogue of the Gibbs collection of 500 artefacts).
The glass claw beaker at Maidstone Museum was recently bought (expensively!) from the estate of Pitt Rivers, the eminent ethnologist, who had acquired it from a railway worker on the site.
This cemetery (which produced 2000 artefacts), was not recorded at all, and from the 600 graves in the Kings Field, not a single grave group of finds was kept together, because of the plundering Victorians and the haphazard excavations of the time. The beautiful treasures are scattered up and down the country in various museums and in private hands. They are now divided between the B.M; the V and A; Canterbury Royal Museum & Art Gallery; Maidstone Museum & Art Gallery; Guildhall Museum, Rochester; Museum of Farnham; Oxford's Ashmoleum museum; Cambridge University; Liverpool Museum; Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and other museums.
(Some of the finds were auctioned at Sotheby’s, bought by Sir John Evans and bequeathed by his son to the Ashmoleum, and the Cecil Brent collection also went there).
Fortunately, a considerable number of the finer finds discovered in the 1930s are in the Anglo-Saxon section of the British Museum, and some of the Gibbs collection found their way there too (see appendix).
Giles Guthrie of the Kent Archaeological Unit of Maidstone Museum, laments the fact that the treasures of Faversham are in other counties; and museums such as Liverpool are loath to let them go; but they should be in Kent; for besides the Claw beaker at Maidstone Museum, there is only a little clay Jug with a chipped rim. At Canterbury Museum, there are only four small glass jars and one brooch where some of the gems have gone missing. (Illus.)
A small museum at the Maison Dieu in Ospringe, c/o English Heritage held a pottery jar and a bead necklace. Faversham museum at the Fleur De Lis centre has a replica ring sword with the gold hilt and the replica Egyptian bowl. This is all very sad.
Then when digging for brick in the area in the 19th century, (the yellow bricks seen in London and Kent are the ones quarried here) other rich ornaments were discovered in 1866.
In addition, two years later, the graves of a well appointed male and female were excavated and their finds were recorded. A Victorian archaeologist, John Brent located similar well-furnished graves.
(In 1872 there was excavated what may have been a shallow Roman draught-pottery kiln at Preston. Then the best-recorded Roman cemetery excavated in 1920 -5 was at Ospringe, which was dated, 2nd - 4th century; and it had a pottery for mass production in the civitas.)
In the 1930s further artefacts were discovered at Faversham's Kings Field. Although it was still not methodically excavated; the British Museum gained one of its richest Saxon collection of finds; reflecting the importance of Faversham in the 6th and 7th century.
In 1965 the hypocausted Roman villa estate was excavated at Faversham, dated to 2nd - late 4th century A.D. and possibly beyond, complete with foundations of rooms, corridors, debris of multi coloured tesserae and painted wall plaster in the robbers trenches, where it had been completely ransacked. It appears that the Anglo-Saxons had no respect for the Roman villa, but perhaps it was the Vikings who did the damage.
The Graveney clinker built coastal estuary boat was discovered in 1970 when the Kent Water Board was widening the Hammond drain on the marshes between Whitstable and Faversham. One of the excavator drivers came across the timbers, the Canterbury Archaeology Society were called in, and subsequently, expert teams from the National Maritime Museum and the British Museum became involved, working together for the first time.
Only the stern had survived in the mud at Graveney. Having cleaned it, the timber frames or ribs of the boat were carefully removed from the trenails that had held them, and these were numbered and preserved.
Then plaster was applied to inside of the hull, and the strakes - the clinker built outer planking, Then the plaster removed, the strakes were extracted from the mud; then the timbers having been protected by wet foam, polythene and supporting plywood strips, the Graveney boat was transported to the Maritime Museum in London so that it could be reconstructed.
It was a discovery of tremendous importance as it was the first example of an actual boat found in Britain of the Viking period, and of non-Scandinavian origin. The Graveney discovery was a highly developed clinker built boat or ship whose structure stemmed from different developments of the basic clinker built style.
Metalworking: some early styles of metalwork in the 6th - 7th century are of a Celtic Iron Age tradition. E.g. the bronze bowl mounts (escutcheons) decorated with dolphins. (Illus.) The escutcheons were attached to the rim of a metal bowl and a chain would run through the loops to hang the bowl. These bowls seem to have a ceremonial function, and are buried in high- ranking graves.
Copper alloy bowls were imported, but bronze seems to have been produced from melting down Roman pieces. There were copper alloy bracelets found also (in the Ashmoleum).
From an Anglo-Saxon settlement at Sarre were found scales and weights made directly from Roman coins.
Iron could be extracted locally, probably from the Weald of Kent. There is a charter of AD 689 for an iron mine at Lyminge, Kent.
Silver must have been imported, as hundreds of silver and silver gilt brooches were being produced, and gold though supposedly scarce, seems in abundance in Faversham; perhaps these gold artefacts were also made from recycled Roman things. Gold probably came into Kent in the form of gold coinage, which again could be melted down. Kent designs were in advance of any other province, indeed they excelled anything in Europe in the 6th century, which shows that there must have been a whole industry of Kentish gold and silver smiths, centred in this area.
The specialist metal workshops using precious metals and bronze in Kent are very likely to have been at Faversham - the home of the smith.
The Faversham jewellery from the King's Field.
Some of the finest examples of Saxon art were exemplified in the ornate jewellery excavated from Faversham graves. There were brooches, rings, armillas, necklaces, buckles and pendants inter alia, (one pendant still on its leather thong).
Jewellery changed from tribal types with interlaced serpents, schematic animals, and gold buckles shaped like horses heads decorated with interlaced animal motifs, to those with Christian symbolism where garnets are in the form of crosses as in one of the brooches. (Illus.)
Some jewellery is of a similar style to those in the German Rhineland and from Frisia in North Holland, for example the bow shaped brooches with square heads found at Faversham, which are of a Southern Danish type. (Illus.)
The brooches of the first settlers in the 5th century A.D. were often worn in pairs, and were quite similar to those found along the coast of Northwest Europe, Southern Scandinavia to North Germany and the Friesian coast, reflecting the style of these incomers. The Canterbury Museum brooch has a matching one on display in the British Museum (both from Faversham's Kings Field). (Illus.)
Cruciform brooches, also found in Scandinavia, began in Kent in the latter half of the 5th century, and spread elsewhere. Faversham had these.
Styles reached their peak in the 6th and 7th century when brooches and other jewellery became characterised by magnificent jewel encrusted works of art. (Illus.)
Some show techniques inherited from Roman traditions but exploited to a different effect.
Besides fine gold and gilded jewellery, there was silver plating and tinning used on bronze items, and punched decoration enriched the surface, with wire inlays, gold filigree work, encrustation and inlaid stone.
Flat cut or polished garnets were often used for cloisonné inlays, as well as other jewels, enamel and blue and coloured glass. On some of the Faversham disc brooches, a white material appears to be shell.
Germanic jewellers from the 5th - 8th centuries created splendid ostentatious jewellery, greatly prized among the Germanic tribes. In their Germanic legends, the metal smith appears to be of great importance and standing, with his almost magical skills. But Kent was producing jewellery to rival this.
Weapons of skilled fighting men were found in the Kings Field; a hierarchy of weapons were held by the elite fighting men; decorated shields, swords and fighting axes; a whole set of weapons would be put in a high status burial.
From the 5th to the 8th century A.D. the smiths became masters of the craft of metalwork; their work was greatly prized, and the weapon handles were highly patterned, and an example is the ring sword (as mentioned in Beowulf) and a sword with a garnet cloisonné pommel from Faversham (in the Museum of Liverpool.) decorated set of belt ends, and the decorative mounts from a horse harness, (Illus.).
The weapons, status symbols, were granted to certain young men on reaching puberty. In Kent spears were found in the graves of juveniles, which shows that fighting and training was started young; and spears were commonly found.
(There is a long list of weapons found at Faversham; see appendix)
Glass: In 1950, a study was made of Anglo-Saxon glass by D. B. Harden based on that by Rademacher (op cit., 335 ff). According to Harden's article, of the total of 266 Anglo-Saxon glass vessels found in the U.K., more than half - 175 were from Kent; of these, 68 were from Faversham itself.
In the study, 5 surviving Roman glasses were found in Kent Anglo-Saxon graves.
At the fall of the Roman Empire, soda-lime glass production continued in the Rhineland and the Aisne-Meuse region, and exported to Britain, Scandinavia and Europe; sometimes they were used as presents amongst the ruling classes.
Beautiful glass vessels in mostly ambers, greens and blues were luxury tableware used at feasts and festivals. Natural salts in the glass tinged it green or brown. The Roman art of colouring glass was lost until the late 6th or 7th century; when artisans from Italy reintroduced bright blues, red swirls and multi-coloured effects in the glassware. (Illus.) A lot of the Faversham glassware is mid to late Anglo-Saxon, like the jewellery.
From this 1950 study, the types of Anglo-Saxon glass at Faversham include 40 squat jars, 6 of the then known 7 bag beakers, pouch bottles (a variant of the squat jar with a pointed base, usually found in pairs, nearly all occur in Kent), claw beakers with hollow tears or gouts or spidery threads laid on, cones, bowls and palm cups (very common in the Rhineland).
These little bowls, about 5 inches in diameter were called palm cups for drinking and held in the palm of the hand. Most glassware was hand blown, but palm cups were blown into moulds. (Illus.)
The tumblers must have tumbled over unless they had some sort of metal stand, as some had no foot to stand on.
The pale yellow /green glass claw beaker currently at Maidstone Museum from the Faversham cemetery is 6th or 7th century; and made by a Germanic artisan as a high status import, perhaps for a royal household. (Illus.) At this time the Merovingian Franks were linked to the Kingdom of Kent through the marriage of King Aethelbert of Kent to the Frankish Princess Bertha.
The predominantly South East distribution of glassware shows the huge amount of trading that was going on in this area, and it may have a glass production site.
Bede writes that in 675 the Abbot of Wearmouth, Benedict, wanting glass windows for the monastery sent to Gaul for glass makers “workmen up to now unknown to Britain”, and he adds that these craftsmen stayed on to teach glass making to the English, including the making of vessels.
Again, much of the pottery was lost during the early excavations of the 1850s. C Roach Smith wrote, “No doubt a considerable number of urns and other fictile vessels were destroyed by the workmen. This is evident from fragments dispersed which I have seen”. (1870) (Gibbs catalogue p xv).
Some of the pottery found at Faversham is of soft brownish clay like the little jug at Maidstone Museum (Illus.) and a burial urn of the 5th or 6th century, a 15 cm high brown coiled pot at Ospringe; reddish ware is Jutish, and usually the Jutes favoured inhumation burials, as opposed to the Saxons who burnt their dead and put the ashes in grey-brown or black cinerary urns.
Anglo-Saxon domestic pottery was of a rough black fired type; the Jutes impressed characteristic ornamentation on their pots as a way of patterning.
The Gauls had kept some Roman technology and production methods, which Germany and France carried on, and they exported wheel turned pottery often with wine or oil to England.
Other Faversham objects: include hundreds of beads of clear and opaque glass, quartz, amethyst, amber, polished antler or bone, pottery, and bronze, (there were 588 beads in the Risden collection), pottery utensils, two handled bronze bowls with open-work, keys, draughtsmen, tweezers, combs, mirrors and coins. Knives found in Kent for eating and cutting in general use relate to their owners according to size. (46-99 mm for juveniles, 100-129 mm for females, and 130 -175 mm for males).
Peculiar to Kent are found in women's graves, perforated spoons like tea strainers, and crystal balls in pendant form; the meaning of these is lost to us now. Could this be a sign of the medicine woman with her herbal infusions and her crystal pendant? There was a crystal ball found in a silver holder found at Faversham, but if a perforated spoon was found with it, it was not recorded.
Notably only one Anglo Saxon silver sceattae coin was recorded (in the Kenward collection, but is now missing.) Most of that, and the Rigdens collection is now not located. However, the Gibbs collection recorded numerous Roman coins to Gratian and possibly later.
Decline of Faversham.
The settlement of Faversham with its industry, land and power was growing in strength in the Anglo-Saxon period to that of a royal port, with outstanding goods belonging to a largely wealthy population. The most flourishing period of Kentish culture was after Aethelbert had married the daughter of the king of the Franks, Chaubert, and when in 593 he, king Aethelbert was overlord or Bretwalda of all the kingdoms south of the Humber.
However, as the centuries went by and other kingdoms developed strongly, the kingdom of Kent suffered in the 8th century when Mercia took over Kent, despite heavy resistance from the Kentings. This can be seen from the Charters of 812 and 815 from the king of Mercia, ‘Cenwulf’ granting land to Wulfred, archbishop of Canterbury. (See Manuscripts).
The decline of Faversham can be seen from the Domesday Book entry (see Manuscripts) where there are only 30 villagers and 5 slaves. This is a far cry from the rich cemetery.
There were several reasons; Bede writes, "a sudden pestilence (664) also depopulated the southern coast of Britain, and afterwards extending into the province of the Northumbrians, ravaged the country far and near, and destroyed a great multitude of men."
Disaster arrived with the Danes who sacked the towns in the South East including Canterbury; they found that booty could be gained with rapid and ruthless raids. The Swale, which had been so useful for Faversham for trade, was horribly easy for the Danes to sail up.
In 832, the Chronicle says, “heathen men overran the Isle of Sheppey”, and in 838 the Danes won a battle in Merscware (land of the Marshfolk -Romney Marsh) and killed many at Canterbury.
In 851 nine of the Danish ships were taken by Aethelstan at Londovic -Sandwich, but the Danes went on to winter in Tenet - Thanet for the first time, and that year 350 Danish ships arrived to take both London and Canterbury.
In 853, the men of Kent and Surrey under the Alderman Ealchere fought in Thanet, but the Danes beat them and the next year wintered in Sceap-Ige - the Isle of Sheppey.
In 865 the Danish pirates laid waste all of East Kent, despite attempts by the men of Kent to buy them off.
All this is disastrous for the town of Faversham, especially when the Danes had constructed a fort on the Swale marshes, after sailing up the Thames estuary with 80 ships.
It is only with Alfred that success came in 871, when he fought eight battles south of the Thames; he relieved Hrofsceastre -Rochester, driving the horseless Danes to their ships. The successes of Alfred were continued with his grandson Aethelstan (who held court at Faversham,) but the peace of the Danelaw was relatively short-lived. With Aethelred the Unready (978 -1016 AD) the whole of England was under the Danes.
In 980, the Danes overran Thanet, and in 986, Rochester was ransacked.
The Chronicle says "In that year (991) it was decreed that tribute, for the first time should be given to the Danish men, on account of the great terror which they had caused by the sea coast; that was at first ten thousand pounds."
In 993 a fleet of 400 ships came to Stone (this could be the Stone at Faversham or another on the Swale), continued to their base at Sandwich (Sandwic is a common name in Norway and Iceland).
In 994 Anlaf king of Norway, and Sweyn, King of Denmark invaded with 500 ships, and they sacked Kent and other counties; they beat the Kentish army in 998 at Rochester, and in 1005 the Danish fleet came to Sandwich and despoiled the country again. The people of East Kent paid a tribute of £3000 in 1007, (England had paid £36,000); meanwhile the Danes spent that winter repairing their ships.
A preliminary catalogue of the Anglo-Saxon (Jutish) antiquities discovered at King’s Field, Faversham Kent. George Mileham (1996)
A catalogue of the Anglo-Saxon and Other antiquities discovered at Faversham in Kent. (Gibbs bequest) Charles Roach-Smith (Eyre and Spottiswoode 1871)
Archaeologia Cantiana. Vol 20 p273- 275, Vol 21 p273, Vol 30 p 35, Vol 30 p39, Vol 38 p58, Vol 39 p35.
Archaeology in Kent to AD 1500. ed P Leach . Anglo Saxon Kent c425- 725. S.C. Hawkes (Council for British Archaeology 1982 ) p74-77.
A history of Kent. R.F. Jessup. (Phillimore 1974) p28,29, 30,35
Along the Roman Roads of Britain. J.H.B. Peel. (Pan Books, 1971) p32-33.
Anglo-Saxon England. Sir Frank Stenton. (Clarendon 1985) p349.
Chronicle. Ray Sutcliffe (ed.) The Archaeology of the Boat. Basil Greenhill. (BBC 1978) p28-33.
Discovering Roman Street names. John Wittich (Shire pubs. Ltd 1977) p93.
Everyday Life in Anglo-Saxon Viking and Norman times. M. & C. Quennell (Batsford 1952) p16, 17, 26, 30, 31, 36, 43, 45,75.
From Domesday Book to Magna Carta 1087 - 1216. A.L Poole (Oxford 1954) p185.
Kent. Red Guide. Michael McNay (Automobile Association 1989) p47-49.
Kent. F.R. Banks. ( The Penguin Guides, 1955) p228-231.
Kent. Richard Church. (R. Hale 1981) p219.
North East and East Kent. N.Pevsner (Penguin 1976) p27, 41,49, 311.
Place Names in Kent. Canon J.W. Horsley. Southern Eastern Gazette 1921. P42, 43, 68.
Roman Britain and the English Settlements. R.G. Collingwood & J.N.L. Myers. (O.U.P. 1963) p360.
The Archaeology of Kent. R.F. Jessup. (Methuen 1930) p219-228.
The Archaeological Newsletter. June 1950 p22 -27. Glass Vessels in Anglo-Saxon Britain. D.B. Harden.
The Cantiaci. Alec Detsicas ( Alan Sutton 1983) p 131-135, p151 and p164.
The History of the Town and Port of Faversham in the County of Kent. Edward Jacob Esq.F.S.A. (I774) p1,5, 6.
The Invicta Magazine. Feb 1908. Snowden Brothers, (West Kent Printing works, Dartford) p224.
The King's England. Kent. Arthur Mee. (H &S 1954) p185, 186.
Wanderings in Anglo-Saxon Britain. Arthur Weigall (H & S c. 1930) p44-47.
British Museum Information (Anglo-Saxon Section).
Maidstone Museum Information (Anglo-Saxon Section).
Museum of London Information (Anglo-Saxon Section).
Faversham Museum information (Anglo-Saxon Section).
Annette Brooker © December 03