The Kingston Brooch: Anglo-Saxon bling!

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This week in our celebration of the World Museum's 150th anniversary we have a blog from Curator of Antiquities, Gina Muskett. Gina is passionate about the objects in the museum's classical and European collections - here she is to tell us about one of her favourite pieces...

I was really pleased that the ‘Kingston Brooch’, one of the objects I curate, was chosen to represent one of the ‘big dates’ in the 150 years since the museum was founded - 1867, when Joseph Mayer presented most of his collection to the museum. You can read more about Joseph Mayer here. 
Multi-coloured brooch

The Kingston Brooch

So what is the Kingston Brooch and why is it so special? For a start, it’s the finest and largest (a whopping 8.5cm in diameter) brooch of its type. The brooch dates from the time of the Anglo-Saxons and is about 1400 years old. It’s made from gold and decorated with garnets (dark red stones), blue glass and shell. The person who made this used more than 830 separate pieces to decorate the brooch, and must have been very skilled indeed. It’s also special that we know exactly where it was found – in a grave at Kingston Down in Kent. It was one of the objects buried with a woman, and she must have loved the brooch, as it is quite worn and repaired, which suggests she wore it regularly. But that’s not all! The grave which contained the Kingston Brooch was one of many excavated by a Kent clergyman, the Reverend Bryan Faussett, who lived in the middle of the 18th century. He kept very detailed records of his digs in notebooks and diaries and they came to Liverpool along with the rest of his collection. You can see a photo of the pages of the diary recording the discovery of the Kingston Brooch – with a lovely drawing! – alongside the brooch itself in the museum. There is also a display of some of the other things buried with the brooch and many other fantastic Anglo-Saxon objects from the museum’s collection in the Ancient World gallery on the third floor of World Museum.