The splendour of power. Early medieval kingship and the use of gold and silver in the southern North Sea area (5th to 7th century AD).

Nicolay, J.A.W.

Hardcover. 434 pp. Richly illustrated. GAS 28. Barkhuis 2014.

From the 5th to the 7th century AD, the southern North Sea area functioned as an important cultural and  political bridge, linking two power blocks: the late Roman Empire and its Frankish successor kingdom to the south, and the Scandinavian kingdoms to the north. This book examines how the region's intermediary position is reflected in the jewellery and other ornaments of gold and silver found along the southern North Sea coasts, and how it relates to the formation of kingdoms and the expression of group identity after the collapse of the West-Roman Empire.

The book first discusses the history of earlier research into kingship around the southern North Sea, and this is followed by a description of the individual research regions: the northern and western Netherlands, northern Germany and southeast England. After presenting the valuables of gold and silver from graves, hoards and settlement sites with their dating and contextual evidence in an extensive catalogue, the author examines how such items circulated between and within early medieval societies, were transformed into symbols expressing regional or supraregional identities, and eventually ended up in the ground. The various research themes come together in the synthesis, in which elite networks around the southern North Sea are reconstructed, and the expression of ethnic or other group identities among the members of such networks is considered. Finally, in an epilogue, the finds from the North Sea region are confronted with the nature and composition of the Staffordshire hoard.
For the first time not only presenting, but also interpreting the superb collection of valuables from the southern North Sea area as a whole, this book makes compulsive reading for anyone interested in the fascinating world of early medieval Europe.

 1 Introduction: early medieval kingship & gift exchange 2
 2 History of research into early medieval kingship around the southern North Sea 20
 3 Research regions: landscape, nuclear regions and site types 36
 4 Valuable items from the coastal area of the northern Netherlands 62
 5 Valuable items from the coastal area of the western Netherlands and the central river area      around Utrecht and Dorestad 102
 6 Valuable items from the coastal areas of Nieder sachsen and western Schleswig-Holstein   7 Valuable items from south east England: East Anglia, Essex and Kent 170
 8 Origin and interregional exchange of early medieval gold and silver 210
 9 Reshaping imported precious metals: the creation of regional and supraregional style            groups        234
10 The circulation of gold and silver within early medieval societies 264
11 The deposition of valuables in hoards and graves 296
12 The geographical distribution of valuable items: the effect of depositional and post-                depositional factors 328
13 The reconstruction of elite networks: a comparative approach 346
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