ORP: Eriswell Girdle-Hangers


This class focused very closely on material engagement as a way of understanding the culture and people of the past. Individually, we each chose a specific artifact to reconstruct either physically or digitally with the intent that focusing closely on a specific object and performing the steps of making a model would teach us about the process that the original makers of the objects would have experienced. I chose the 6th-century bronze girdle-hangers from the Eriswell cemetery in Suffolk for my reconstruction project. Through the process of researching and recreating the artifact, I learned not only details about how it was originally made but also how it served a wider culture of displaying one’s status and identity on their body in a visible manner.



Beginning in the 5th-century, Anglo-Saxons buried their women with accessories and ornamentation to indicate who they were while alive. The growing inequality between the rich graves and poor graves throughout the 6th-century indicated changing power dynamics in society as individual families grew more powerful and wealthier than others. Styles of dress became an important vehicle through which to display one’s status, and regional styles of dress began to develop across Early Medieval England. A shared elite style of dress began to spread as well as contact between the powerful Anglo-Saxon families increased. Girdle-hangers were a part of this growing shared elite culture.

Girdle-hangers were a symbol of status that powerful women would have worn. The distinctive shape of these specific girdle-hangers was meant to resemble that of keys, signifying that the woman who wore them was the keeper of her household. These objects were discovered across England, from Little Eriswell on the eastern side to Cowdery’s Down in the west. It becomes evident through burial archaeology that the women, many of whom wore brooches and other jewelry in death, likely served as walking cultural symbols. Their regional-style dress made it instantly recognizable where they came from, and their level of finery indicated their place within society.



My wooden model girdle-hangers

My reconstruction of the Eriswell girdle-hangers led me on an adventure in which I encountered many of the problems, complications, and limitations that the makers of the original girdle-hangers would have faced. When I began my reconstruction, I had planned to make a digital model with Agisoft Photoscan, but the program was unfortunately unable to orient the photos of the artifacts correctly. Lacking the technological prowess to fix this problem, I decided to make a physical model. Lacking the knowledge and ability to cast things out of bronze, I decided to make my models out of wood. Already I encountered some common problems with which any maker must contend: the limitations of my own set of skills and availability of my materials. These limitations would shape the form that my finished girdle-hangers would take.

Preliminary sketch-plan of my model girdle-hangers. I learned during the creation process that some of the measurements are actually wrong because I am bad at math.

The key shape sketched onto the plywood. Notice the “X” at the end of the key where I continued to modify the design right up until I cut the shapes out.












The key shapes and the band saw used to cut them


During my initial design process, I attempted to sketch out the exact dimensions of the girdle-hangers when I realized how little this would have mattered to the original makers. Exact measurements did not matter when it came to these objects. What really mattered was their distinctive key shape, since they had no actual functional purpose at all beyond sending a visible message. The designs I had made turned into a rough guide for the creation process, but by no means were they a step-by-step manual. I knew that when I began the process of making the models, I would need to mostly just think on my feet and, as before, allow my particular skill set and the materials available drive the project, which they did indeed. While making the models, I found myself constantly running into problems and reacting to them, adapting always to what my materials and tools would allow me to do.

One of the best insights I gained when making the girdle-hangers was the fact that each key must have been made either from two different pieces or had a transition cast in the metal. Halfway down the shaft of each key, they turn 90-degrees to fit onto the crossbar that holds the two keys together. This transition, either a twist or a seam, occurs on a part of the key that appears to be wrapped with bronze wire. It was my conclusion that the bronze wire served to hide the 90-degree transition from view. I came to this conclusion when attempting to recreate this part of the models; I chose the two-pieces approach, attaching an eye bolt 90-degrees to the broad side of the wooden key and wrapping them with string to strengthen the seam.

The end of the bronze girdle-hangers turned 90-degrees to the broad end of the key shafts, the transition wrapped in wire

The ends of my girdle-hangers, made of eye bolts turned 90-degrees to the broad end of the shafts and wrapped in string













While my process and the end results of my project were not perfect – from the materials and tools used to the processes that I created in my mind – creating these girdle-hangers helped me engage with the objects made centuries ago and allowed me to step into the shoes of the original makers to experience the limitations and complications that they experienced.


Further Reading

Kevin Leahy, Anglo-Saxon Crafts (Stroud: The History Press, 2010).

Robin Fleming, Britain After Rome (New York: Penguin Group, 2011).

Gale R. Owen-Crocker, “Dress and Identity,” in The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology, ed. David A. Hinton, Sally Crawford, Helena Hamerow (Oxford University Press, 2011).

Christopher Scull, “Social Transactions, Gift Exchange, and Power in the Archaeology of the Fifth to Seventh Centuries,” in Hinton, Oxford Handbook.

Patricia Hutchinson, The Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Little Eriswell, Suffolk (Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, 1966).

ORP: Square-Headed Brooch


Pre-conversion (5th-7th centuries) Anglo-Saxon fashion is rather elusive, as there is little to no documented evidence from this period. What evidence we have comes almost entirely from the material record, and much of this evidence comes from burials. However, the predominance of certain buried fashionable items, especially in women’s graves, gives us some idea about what the early Anglo-Saxons wore and what those items may have signified for the wearers.

The square-headed brooch is one such fashionable item. The brooch is a rather common find in women’s graves from the early period, and this suggests that it was a popular ornament, at least in certain social circles. I recreated a square-headed brooch from the cemetery at Little Eriswell, Suffolk, and much of my research on the brooch centered around the cemetery itself and the rest of the grave goods buried with the brooch.

The Little Eriswell cemetery is an early (mid to late 6th century) East Anglian cemetery. It does not seem to have been linked to an inordinately rich cemetery; the only notable markers of exceedingly high status are a high-quality sword and textile. Moreover, the degenerate condition of the brooches and ornaments at the gravesite corroborate this modest picture. This does not mean, however, that there was no social stratification at Eriswell. Certain graves have few or no grave goods, while other graves, like the one I researched, hold more grave goods, many of which appear to be luxury items.

The grave I researched holds a female in her twenties. Along with her brooch, she is buried with two cruciform brooches, a collection of amber, glass, and jet beads, an ivory ring, girdle hangers, and a collection of odd metal trinkets. These trinkets may have had spiritual significance to the owner, since they seem to have had no pragmatic or aesthetic purpose. The gilding on the square-headed brooch, the beads, and the ivory ring all indicate that, while the owner was not excessively wealthy, she had some moderately high status. The ivory ring also indicates that Eriswell was likely connected to some international trade route.

The brooch itself is pretty typical for its time period and location. It is adorned with abstract animal ornamentation, a hallmark of early Anglo-Saxon art. The patterns on the brooch, at first glance, seem purely abstract, but if one looks closely, one can begin to pick out certain anthropomorphic shapes: faces, serpents, horses, etc. As earlier mentioned, the brooch is gilded, indicating some modest wealth. Indeed, square-headed brooches are thought to have been markers of status; they likely held together a gown similar to the peplos-style gown of ancient Greece, which could have been held together by simple pins. That these brooches, then, were used instead indicates that they were likely a marker of status. Gowns themselves may have marked status in Anglo-Saxon England, since the more practical tunic could also have been worn.

                               The square-headed brooch from Eriswell.


I modeled my brooch using Agisoft Pro 3-D modeling software. To do this, I uploaded pictures of the brooch from various angles into the computer program. I then “masked” the pictures, essentially cropping out everything in the picture that wasn’t the brooch itself, like the base and black background. I separated the pictures into different “chunks”; since different groups of pictures showed the brooch in different positions (right-side up, upside down, for example), the program would have meshed different positions together in the model if I had made one model alone. I then generated my sparse point cloud, the first layer of modeling, and then the dense point cloud, the second layer. I then manually trimmed away and combined my different chunks to form one cohesive model (sort of like photoshopping different images together, but with models). I finally created the mesh, so that the model became a 3-D shape, not a collection of dots, and textured it. At that point, my model was complete.

                                     Front and back sides of my model.
The process above seems rather smooth and streamlined, but many problems came up in the modeling of the brooch. Most of these stemmed from my ignorance of the software. I hadn’t used Agisoft before and was having to learn the system as I was modeling. For example, I didn’t realize I had to mask and was very confused when my model incorporated the black background. To troubleshoot, I consulted video tutorials, Dr. Mason, and a classmate, Brittany Johnson. I did not make my model in one go. My process was riddled with restarts and editing.

I also made a rough sketch of the front of the brooch. My goal in sketching was not to get a good 3-D image of the brooch, since that was what my computer model did. Rather, it was to get a better idea of the animal ornamentation on the front of the brooch. That ornamentation was extremely rather abstract, and my hope was that by drawing it out, I could notice more patterns and forms in the brooch.
                                                                               My sketch.

I found that both models, 3-D and sketch, offered different insights into the brooch and its making. I found that while my finished sketch was little help, the process of drawing helped me to understand the brooch much better. As I had presumed, I was able to pick up more and more patterns in the ornamentation. While I had already noticed the faces on different poles of the brooch, I hadn’t noticed, for example, the parallel serpentine designs on opposite sides of the “square head” of the brooch. I also thought that drawing the brooch gave me a better idea of what making the brooch may have been like. While Anglo-Saxon metalworkers would not have been sketching their designs using pencil and paper, they did carve it into the clay mold for the brooch, a process very much akin to my sketching. This in turn made the brooch-making process more human in my head; sketching the designs felt rather improvisational, and I could imagine myself as the brooch-maker, carving what designs I thought looked fitting into the brooch.

Whereas the process of sketching the brooch gave me an insight into the brooch-making process, I found that modeling the brooch did not help me at all, but my finished product certainly did. The abstract, distanced nature of running a program distanced me from the brooch. Copying and pasting images and commanding the program to run various, abstract tasks did not bring me closer to understanding the nature of brooch-making. However, my finished 3-D model, which I could turn around and look at from all sides, like I would a physical object, was exceedingly helpful. First of all, it was the most natural possible way for me to understand my object. I could look at different pictures of my brooch, but the 2-D nature of these images kept the brooch disjointed in my mind—I found that that spatial incoherence made it harder for me to retain an idea of the brooch’s form while I was researching. Having a coherent, 3-D image greatly helped me subconsciously fit together the brooch in my head while I was researching.

On a more fundamental level, though, having a 3-D model allowed me to have a semi-tactile connection with the brooch. A common argument against technological developments is that they distance the maker with the made. If I write with a computer, for example, I am not having the touch-based connection with writing that I would have if I were writing with pencil and paper. I am not actually crafting the letters. Yet if I hadn’t 3-D modeled my brooch, I would have had even less tactile avenues for understanding my brooch. The only other resources at my disposal were pictures, which only offered a visual connection with the brooch. Even if I traveled to the museum where the brooch is held, the brooch would be behind a glass case. I wouldn’t be able to turn it around and inspect it on my own terms. My 3-D model, however, does give me that experience, even if it is virtual. I can turn around my brooch at will and zoom in where I want. This is a much more natural process than the others at my disposal. Furthermore, if I wanted a physical connection with the brooch, I could 3-D print my model, and that way I could have a true physical, tactile connection with the brooch. Technology, then, can make archaeological work more natural, not necessarily less. This is an important insight for the future of the digitalization of archaeological work. If it is prioritized, we can use technology to make archaeological work more natural for more people, not just those that have the resources to go on digs and have tactile connections with artefacts. This furthermore can be used to make historical education more natural, and indeed, museums are increasingly creating accessible 3-D models to supplement their exhibits.


Hutchinson, Patricia. “The Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Little Eriswell, Suffolk.” Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society 59 (1966).

Ingold, Tim. Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art, and Architecture. Abingdon: Routledge, 2013.

Leahy, Kevin. Anglo-Saxon Crafts. Stroud: Tempus Publishing, 2003; reprinted Stroud: History Press, 2010.

Meaney, Aubrey L. “Anglo-Saxon Amulets and Curing Stones.” BAR British Series 96 (Oxford, 1981).

Owen-Crocker, Gale R. Dress in Anglo-Saxon England. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988; reprint, Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2004.


Craft Fair: Early Medieval Textiles

“Of all the proceeds of human artifice, string is perhaps the most widespread and least appreciated.” -Tim Ingold


Basic Textile History

Textiles were certainly an important part of life during the Early medieval period. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the materials used, there are very few remnants from this period. Much of the information surviving about clothing from this period comes from a few scattered objects found on the European continent, or from supposition based on archeological records. The design of early Anglo-Saxon women’s dresses, for instance, has been surmised based on the surviving metal fasteners, including brooches and wrist clasps, found in women’s graves scattered throughout early British burial sites. Indications of the processes of such as spinning, weaving, and rope-making are occasionally left by indentations and patterns of decay in graves or the sites of decayed buildings, not to mention the discovery of many loom weights and spindle whorls in domestic areas. Given the lack of textual or remaining physical evidence of Early Anglo-Saxon textiles, many of their nuances may remain a mystery, but they will likely continue to fascinate historians due to the tremendous impact they had on the everyday lives of ordinary Anglo-Saxons.


Spinning & Weaving

Spinning in Early Medieval England began with carding and cleaning the wool, unless you wanted to leave the lanolin in to make the cloth more waterproof, in which case you would leave it unwashed. The wool was then spun into yarn using a drop spindle, basically a stick with a bead-like spindle whorl on it to help it turn. We procured a drop spindle and tried out spinning some wool into yarn, but most of ours was over-spun, causing the yarn to twist around itself and break off of the main cloud of wool more often.

Demonstrating a drop spindle.

We didn’t get a chance to try out weaving our minimal amount of yarn, since we had made nowhere near enough yarn to weave so much as an inch of cloth. However, Early Medieval people would use giant looms with sticks to pull out alternating threads on the frame to speed threading yarn through it.


Making Clothing

Since linen would have been available, if not exactly common, during the Early Medieval period, we set out in search of tablecloths (we definitely didn’t have time to weave our own cloth). Sadly, Target didn’t have cheap, non-printed tablecloths, so we instead went for a sheet set. Fast forward through several hours of ripping the seams and elastic out of a fitted sheet, and we begin attempting to figure out how to make an Early Medieval gown.

The sources we had showed what was basically a large cylinder, the two sides pinned together at the shoulders with brooches, tied around the waist with a considerable amount of extra fabric bunched over the belt. So we began by pinning together the sides at various different widths, trying to figure out how wide, exactly, the cylinder needed to be to allow enough extra room for arm holes without making it look like we were actually wearing a sheet.

There was also the question of whether we should sew the gown in a straight cylinder, or taper it a bit at the top to give it the slightly more drapey look in the pictures in our sources. In the end, we settled for more or less a perfect cylinder, a few inches longer than the person it would fit to allow for the bunched, loose top over the belt. Sewing was a straightforward affair: we just hemmed the bottom and stitched up the single seam at the sides. The two shoulders we pinned together with safety pins, as we were short authentic Early Medieval brooches.

On the skeleton we used at the fair for our burial, the gown was a bit loose, but it looked satisfyingly authentic. And it was, after all, a skeleton fairly short on flesh.

Ecgwynn in full Early Medieval regalia.


Making Rope

Rope making is one of the foundations of farming communities like those of the early medieval period in England. It is the area where textiles leave the exclusive domain of the home and become part of the larger economic driving force used both in domestic and more industrial settings such as farming and fishing. We took inspiration for this activity from the descriptions of Tim Ingold in his philosophical treatise Making. In it he describes the process of making two core rope with palm leaves as a means of discovering the full possibilities involved in creating through the hands. Our somewhat less ephemeral purpose, was to explore the process involved in this basic medieval craft, and to find a greater appreciation for the labor involved and the quality of the rope obtained. This began with a search for materials that would best serve our purpose. Palm leaves seldom grow in Minnesota (nor do I imagine they were common in medieval Britain) so it was necessary to find an alternative source of fiber. In this case, rather than trying to find the fibers that would have been used by the early Anglo-Saxons, we focused instead on how they would have solved the problem themselves, they would have found the best material they could source locally. We followed suite using the dried leaves of last year’s prairie grasses we collected as a substitute fiber.

Collecting Grass in the Carleton Arboretum

Once we had collected the leaves, the most arduous step of the process was tearing them into long strips that were thin enough to be incorporated into rope. This time consuming step would have occupied craftsmen a good deal longer than the actual creation of the rope and, depending on the amount of rope desired, might have taken weeks or months to complete. After this process was complete, the fibers had to be soaked overnight to make them pliable for weaving (enter our authentic medieval trash can).


After this step, we were ready to begin the rope-making process. Using the process of ‘hand rolling’ string described in Ingold we attempted to weave the rope. This involved rolling two bunches of the fibers between the two hands before lifting one bunch over the other so that the twists work against one another to hold the rope straight.

Weaving Process. Willeke Wendrich, The World According to Basketry (Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Publications, 1999), 299.


While Ingold suggested using your hands to roll the rope, I found this to be much more difficult than weaving it on my lap. I discovered that rolling the rope in hands would have been difficult, especially for women with smaller hands, and that they likely would have rolled in on another surface (though it also stained everything it touched which suggests that aprons or some other sort of covering for clothes must have been used for similar tasks).


Some finished rope from the fair.

Actually recreating some of the textile items Early Medieval people would have used allowed us to get a sense of the logic behind their creation process that we wouldn’t have gathered simply by reading about it or seeing it in a museum. For example, the cylindrical gowns would have allowed for easy adjustment during periods of growth — useful in a place where creating fabric was an arduous, multi-person task and children might or might not survive the next year. Spinning and weaving would probably have been a task for multiple people, as the many different tasks necessary to perform could have been done fairly simultaneously. Our efforts gave us a better understanding of the world of Early Medieval England, beyond the farming and fighting that we usually associate with it. Also, making rope is a strikingly applicable skill in braiding hair:

Further Reading

Owen Crocker, Gale. Dress in Anglo-Saxon England. Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2004.

Leahy, Kevin. Anglo-Saxon Crafts. Brimscombe Port Stroud, UK: The History Press, 2003.

Ingold, Tim. Making. New York: Routledge, 2013.

Fleming, Robin. Britain After Rome. London: Penguin Books, 2011.

ORP: Bone Needle

By Brendan Glenn,  class of 2021

When one considers the objects of importance in one’s life, it is often the largest or most complex things which first come to mind. The buttons on my shirts or the zippers on my backpack, however, are as vitally important to my life, or at least to my lifestyle, as my phone or my computer. Such unseen but ever-present objects are probably more populous nowadays, in the age of mass-production and unobtrusive design, but they have doubtless existed for nearly as long as groups of humans have been producing things. One particular invisible object, a needle of carved bone, can be used to shed a little light on a certain group of humans: the people inhabiting the early Anglo-Saxon settlement of West Stow in the middle centuries of the first millennium. Despite the fact that it was likely taken for granted in its “life,” or perhaps because it was, it can if thoroughly noticed offer insights about those who created and used it.

The needle in question (Fig. 1) is a fairly simple object comprised of two main sections: a head and a shaft. The shaft is thin and cylindrical, descending from the head and tapering at the other end to a somewhat sharp point. The head is  a roughly shield-shaped structure with a hole in its center, which is positioned directly in line with the shaft. The needle likely originates from a pig fibula which was carved down into a needle shape around its central axis, preserving the tensile strength provided by the original bone while also minimizing the space the item would have taken up.

I bet whoever owned this lost it on purpose. Would *you* want to sew with it? It's made of a pig's leg and its head probably gets stuck in every piece of fabric it passes through.

Figure 1: An image of the bone needle I reconstructed, and one of many photographs used in that reconstruction.

This object was most likely used either as a simple dress-pin or for single-needle knitting. It shares with sewing needles found at and near West Stow a perforated triangular head and a simple design, although it is more elaborate than other needles due to the extra carving on its head which makes it shield-shaped. That this needle is fancier than other, similar objects, however, raises several questions about the people who used it. Why might someone want a more elaborate version of a bone tool whose uses were fairly mundane? The answer is likely that this needle’s relatively-ornate design served to highlight the bone-working skill of the person who created it, and therefore the status of its user. From this, one can infer that there was a certain amount of value placed on having finely-made things in the community at West Stow, which isn’t necessarily surprising, but also that this applied even to small, seemingly mundane items such as needles.

Finely-made needles have been important tools and status symbols in many societies.

Why, then, didn’t a person with the means to have a nice needle have a needle made for themselves out of a higher-status material? Iron, silver and bronze dress-pins are present at the West Stow site, but no needles of anything but bone have been found. Why make metal pins but not metal needles? Since needles, unlike dress-pins, are unlikely to be buried with people, it’s possible that metal needles were used and didn’t end up where archaeologists could find them, but it seems unlikely that no metal needles would ever be lost, unlike the many doubtlessly-misplaced bone needles found in other excavated dwellings. Perhaps metal simply couldn’t be shaped into fine enough needles for the purposes of West Stow’s needle-users. Either way, the fact that this simple object is the nicest needle found at the site provides a glimpse, however murky, into the sorts of things that its people valued in their invisible objects.

Despite the fact that this needle was probably used for fairly mundane purposes, such as doing simple, decorative embroidery, it nonetheless is an object which could be said to have had a higher level of importance than other quotidian tools. The people of West Stow lived simple lives and had access, from the perspective of even people alive in their own time in places not terribly far from Britain, to very little indeed.

Pictured: two residents of West Stow

    Despite that, however, they had the time and energy to make even their simple tools prettier than they necessarily had to be. Knit-work is useful for keeping oneself warm and dress-pins are necessary for holding certain types of clothing together, but there’s no need for the objects that facilitate knitting or pinned dresses to be nice. Despite this, some inhabitant of West Stow nonetheless wanted this needle to be prettier than it absolutely had to be, to make things nicer rather than simply do the bare minimum in a time and place where even achieving the bare minimum of survival was a fairly pressing task. It is things like this small, simple-yet-ornate needle which remind us that even the people who do not appear in histories have inner lives, and are, essentially, human.

Of course, producing this needle was not a task accomplished via the crafter’s deep belief in the innate human quest for beauty, but via bone-working tools and the leg of a slaughtered pig, which are much less romantic to ponder but substantially more useful. My own work to recreate this object was significantly less bloody and physical than its original creator’s, but did give me an appreciation for the effort required to produce such an object. Several of the issues which I encountered in my quest to convince Agisoft PhotoScan to produce a 3D model of the object could be taken as oblique metaphors for the experience of a human interacting with a needle like this one.

Not quite.

The program initially, for instance, had difficulties separating the needle from the background of the photos in which it was pictured. I have had the same experience multiple times when attempting to find similar small objects against backgrounds which seemingly ought to highlight their presence, and while I understood that PhotoScan was having a different issue than I do when I drop a red thumbtack and cannot find it on a solid green carpet, I still empathized with the program’s struggle. For reference, see Fig. 2, where the program constructed a horrible amalgam formed of photos of the object taken from many angles due to its inability to distinguish it from its  background.

And when the shapeless thing in skies above/does take the sun within its charnel form/the sky will tear itself apart for love;/ the stars despite that darkness will us warm.

Figure 2: an in-progress screenshot of my attempt to model the needle.

Likewise, the refusal of the program to assign any tie points to the object or its environs I assumed to be similar in aspect to my own difficulties when attempting to, say, seize hold of such small items as the needle. The solution for both of us in this sort of situation appears to be the application of additional computing power to the problem; I, on my second attempt, take time to resolve the depth of the evasive object before attempting to pick it up again, while PhotoScan required a greater limit for the number of points which it’s allowed to apply when aligning its images in order to sufficiently “acquire” the needle and model it sufficiently (see Fig. 3). In other words, I was able to experience an interaction with this item in vicarious fashion through the trials which PhotoScan went through in attempting to locate, acquire, and correctly model it.

Please ignore the blobs near the head, or imagine that they are there so as to avoid the wrath of God by the creation of a perfect thing.

Figure 3: My final model for (the upright perspective of) the needle.

    The stories which something as simple and seemingly unimportant as a needle can tell are, honestly, surprising in their scope and occasional depth. Through attempting to understand this object one can learn not only about its history but about the concerns, both social and aesthetic, of its user or users. That this needle holds so much information within it despite the fact that it likely went almost unnoticed by those in whose lives it was present has induced in me a sort of paranoia concerning the materials with which I live my life. What will my shirt-buttons tell the archaeologists and college students of the future? My discarded coffee-cup lids? My headphones? It’s not paranoia in the sense that I feel threatened (though I suppose it’s always uncomfortable to consider the prospect that nameless others will understand in great detail how I live my life), but more in the sense that my every use of an object is now paired with the thought, “what will they think of this when they find it?”. This has the uncomfortable effect of making objects that ought to be invisible (like my suddenly-fascinating shirt-buttons) quite visible indeed. Perhaps the owner of this needle felt the same way when considering its shield-shaped head. “I hope” they might have thought, “that nobody notices how inconvenient the shape of this thing is for sewing.”



West, Stanley. West Stow, Suffolk: The Anglo-Saxon Village. 2 vols., East Anglian Archaeology Report 24. Ipswich, Suffolk: Suffolk County Planning Dept., 1985.

The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology, edited by Hamerow et al. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011.

West, Stanley. West Stow Revisited. West Stow: West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village Trust, 2001.