View all news

Alfred Jewel comes under the spotlight

Image of the Alfred Jewel

The Alfred Jewel is thought to date to the late ninth century and is made from gold, rock crystal and enamel

Press release issued: 2 February 2015

The Alfred Jewel, one of the most precious objects from the Anglo Saxon era, will be the subject of a TV documentary by Professor Mark Horton of the University of Bristol’s Department of Archaeology and Anthropology.

The jewel, which was discovered in a field near Bridgwater in 1693, will be briefly returning to Somerset where it will be on public display until the end of February.  The jewel is owned by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and has never returned before to its original home.

The jewel is thought to date to the late ninth century and is made from gold, rock crystal and enamel.  It is thought to be an aestel, which was a type of Anglo Saxon pointer used for reading manuscripts.  The king is recorded as having given thirty copies of the Pastoral Life of Pope Gregory, along with purpose-made aestels to his bishops to spread Christian learning throughout his kingdom.  The Alfred jewel with an inscription that links the object directly to the king, was found in North Petherton, a short distance from Alfred’s monastic foundation at Athelney.

“It’s really exciting the jewel is coming home, albeit briefly,” commented Professor Horton, who is presenting the film for BBC ONE’s Inside Out West.  “There has long been clamours that it should really find a permanent home in Somerset, but I am sure that even for a month the object will attract enormous attention.”

The Museum of Somerset in Taunton is extending its opening hours specially to allow as many people as possible to view the jewel.  The exhibition will be free of charge.

The film about the jewel will be shown on Inside Out West, BBC ONE, 7.30pm, Monday 2 February and will be available on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after transmission.

Edit this page