Christmas Miscellany

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Christmas Miscellany

December 10 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


The meeting will begin with Society business and will be followed by our Christmas Miscellany of papers. Each paper will last 20-25minutes.


  • The Lamp of Knowledge by Nathalie Cohen FSA

This short paper presents the initial results of some recent research on the Society of Antiquaries’ lamp, used as our ‘symbol of ticket’ since the 18th century. Originally identified as a Roman artefact, but subsequently re-dated to the medieval period, and more recently suggested to be a Jewish sabbath lamp, this presentation will discuss other examples identified in collections in the UK and beyond, depictions of lighting during the medieval period and (if time allows!) some initial thoughts on the context of the lamp’s discovery.

  • A newly found old English Runic Inscription and its decipherment by Professor John Hines FSA & Dr Simon Maslin FSA

A silver strap-end with a runic inscription in the Old English language was found by metal-detecting at King’s Somborne, Hampshire, in January 2019. It can be dated around the third quarter of the 8th century. While the corpus of Anglo-Saxon runic inscriptions is still sufficiently small (around 150 items) for any addition to be of great importance for the information it can provide on the use of literacy, and forms of the language in a given area at the relevant date, this particular item posed practical challenges which required the combined efforts of several specialists and institutions to resolve.

A small area of surface corrosion obscured a crucial area (one graph) of the inscription. It proved possible to see through this using x-radiography, so that the text can now be read as ‘Hemele made this gæsil’, with the previously not fully legible word gæsil evidently used of the strap-end. This is the first instance of this word that we have, although it can be readily explained etymologically.

The strap-end is of unusual form, and of high-quality precious metal. Exceptionally, it was manufactured to carry no decoration but the inscription declaring who had made it. That Hemele, however, appears not have been rune-literate himself, and to have struggled to copy an exemplar provided to him.

Of greatest importance, though, is to record, to emphasize and to commend the lessons learnt from the cooperation between the Finds Liaison Officer/Portable Antiquities Scheme, the British Museum and the National Museum of Wales, and in this case the Department of Archaeology and Conservation at Cardiff University, to recover unique information by arrangements which required some circumvention of the normal procedures for examining finds passing through the British Museum under the Treasure Act. The valuable outcome of positive collaboration in this case merits highlighting in the context of the current review of that legislation.

Please note that due to COVID 19 restrictions this event will be online only. 

Attendance by Live Stream:

  • Registration is essential.
  • Open to anyone to join, Fellows and Non-Fellows.
  • Once you have registered we will be in touch regarding how you can join via Zoom video-calling.
  • The event will also be live-streamed to YouTube here, so you can watch along if you prefer
  • Places through zoom will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • The event will begin at 17.00, GMT.
  • You will recieve an email with the link to join the day before the lecture.
  • Attendees’ cameras and microphones will be off throughout.

If you have any questions please contact our Communications Manager on [email protected]

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December 10
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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