'Dark' Ages - Saxons & Vikings

The so-called 'Dark' Ages

When the Roman troops left Britain in 410 AD and the arrival of the Normans in 1066 

The period between 410 and the arrival of the Normans in 1066 is often referred to as the 'Dark Ages' - 'dark' because written information is scarce, and 'dark' because there were waves of invaders from Europe during those 650 years. Angles and Saxons, who were originally Germanic people, and Vikings from Denmark and Norway arrived on our shores - and the shores of East Anglia were comparatively close to Europe. But more and more light is being shed on this era and historians now prefer to call it the Early Medieval Period.

Something of where these people settled can be guessed from place-names - as explained on the ORIGINS page. So, whilst Mulbar-ton and Swardes-ton may have been named by Anglo-Saxons, nearby Swains-thorpe and Ashwell-thorpe have Danish-sounding names.

There evidence that Saxons were here, from the metal items they dropped or discarded. Among those identified and dated are 3 brooches, one early Saxon and the others mid- and a late-Saxon; part of a mid-Saxon stylus; part of a late Saxon buckle; and a part of what may be a late Saxon stirrup. Some other finds may also be Saxon, but their state defies definite identification. Look at the collections on other pages in the ORIGINS section to see some of these.

But Jim Bratton, who made these finds, and the Norfolk Museum Service were far more excited about one small Viking find in a field of onions behind Paddock Farm. This mysterious fluted item turned out to be a Viking sword pommel from the 9th century. It is similar to finds at the Hedeby boat burial in Denmark and to a finds in Norway and the Isle of Man.

It is shown above (item 3) with other finds and a ruler which shows it is only just over 7 cm wide. The items shown above from field 7 are: 1. Roman brooch catch; 2. Roman coin from 100 - 200 AD; 4. to 11. various pieces of Medieval pots, straps, buckles and a purse frame; 12. to 15. coins from the times of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I;  and 18. an 18th century lead seal from a roll of cloth.
Here is a close-up and a report from the Norfolk Museum service, to whom Jim donated the find:

The Viking sword pommel is made of copper alloy which has been decorated and the lower section is hollow. It is only 3cm tall and less than 1.5 cm wide. Was it lost by someone of Viking descent? Or bought by a local Saxon from a Viking? How was it lost? If only we knew - but it's a great find, and its from Mulbarton, and now at Norwich Castle Museum.