a Key Stage 3 guide to the Norman Conquest of England through objects in museums across the UK
This gold finger-ring would have been owned by someone of status, like those who signed charters. It is set with a central sapphire and red glass. Originally it was thought that it was made in the late 10th or 11th centuries, but some experts have suggested a much earlier date of manufacture.
This unusual dress accessory, known as a hooked-tag, is made from a silver penny of King Cnut, like those in the Lenborough Hoard: the coin itself was struck in Derby. It seems to have been an 11th century fashion to make jewellery, mostly brooches, from coinage. This object was reported Treasure through the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
Although this object is likened to the Lewis chess-knights it may have actually been fixed to a larger object. Both the Lewis chessmen and this knight reflect the style of arms and armour used in the 11th century, though probably date to the 12th century. The Carlton-in-Lindrick knight was found by a metal-detectorist in 2004 and recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
This early 12th century tympanum, originally from a doorway, was found during excavations at St Mary's Priory, Thetford. The original site of the priory was moved from the south side of the town to the north where there was more space. In 1114, the monks moved into the new buildings, of which this sculpture was a part. The sculpture depicts a lion in a classic Romanesque style with the animal's mane ending in little curls. Similar lions appear on the Bayeux Tapestry.
During the 1060s the Godwin family extended their power throughout England. The rise of the Godwin family was largely at the expense of other noble families. Their prominence was also achieved due to the success of Earl Harold and his brother Earl Tostig in dealing with the Welsh who threatened the stability of the English kingdom in the west. This map shows the English earldoms upon the death of Edward the Confessor. All of the southern part of England was held by members of Earl Harold's family, including his brothers Gyrth and Leofwine.
This is an x-ray of an early medieval sword from Llanmaes, Vale of Glamorgan, which was found by a metal-detectorist in 2002. Swords like this were used by warriors at the time of Earl Harold's wars against the Welsh.
This object is a Romanesque fitting in the form of a crouching lion. It may have mounted a shrine or casket. Caskets were often present at important religious and secular events, such as when Harold swore a sacred oath before Duke William.
Discovered in Battle, East Sussex, on the site of the Battle of Hastings, this axe is thought to be the only survival of the weaponry used by King Harold’s army that day.
Very few 11th century helmets survive, so the Washingborough Helmet, found in the River Witham, is nationally important. These conical helmets (though often shown with nasal guards) are depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry and also on some contemporary coins.
Jeremy Ashbee & Phil Harper (English Heritage)
David Forsyth (National Museum of Scotland)
Sam Glasswell (Bassetlaw Museum)
Edward Impey & Chris Streek (Royal Armouries)
Ellie Jones & Ann Barwood (Exeter Cathedral Library)
Deb Klemperer (Potteries Museum & Art Gallery)
Antony Lee (The Collection, Lincoln)
Sylvette Lemagnen & Brigitte Lecourt (Bayeux Tapestry Museum)
Natalie McCaul (Yorkshire Museum, York)
Tim Pestell (Norwich Castle Museum)
Helen Rees (Hampshire Cultural Trust, Winchester)
Mark Redknap (National Museums Wales)
Emma Reeve (Colchester & Ipswich Museums)
Brett Thorn (Buckinghamshire County Museum)
Trevor Wayne (Battle Museum)
Grant Young & Suzanne Paul (Cambridge University Library)
Exhibition curated by Michael Lewis
Thanks also to Jane Findlay, Katharine Hoare, Emilia McKenzie and Natalie Tacq (British Museum)