Alfred Jewel: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the Alfred Jewel.

  • The Alfred Jewel is an Anglo-Saxon artefact from the 9th century, made during the reign of King Alfred the Great.
  • It is made of enamel, quartz and gold, and it would have once been attached to the top of a thin wooden rod. It is thought to have been the handle of a pointer stick (or aestel), used for following words when reading from gospel texts.
  • It is called the Alfred Jewel because Alfred the Great ordered it to be made. The artefact is inscribed with the words ‘Aelred Mec Heht Gewyrcan’ – Alfred ordered me made.
  • The Alfred Jewel is about 6.5 cm long and shows an image of a man – possibly Jesus Christ or St Cuthbert or St Neot.

Alfred Jewel

  • Some believe that the man is a figure representing the sense of sight
  • The artefact was discoved at North Petherton, Somerset in 1693.
  • It can be seen by the public in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
  • Since the discovery of the Alfred Jewel, other similar artefacts have been found. These include: The Minister Lovell Jewel, The Warminster Jewel, The Bowleaze Jewel, The Yorkshire Aestel, The Borg Aestel and the Bidford Bobble.
  •  Many historians believe that the teardrop-shaped piece of crystal used in the Alfred Jewel was recycled from a piece of Roman jewellery.
  • A mosaic based on the Alfred Jewel can be found in the Market Square of St Neots. An image of the Alfred Jewel can also be found on the St Neots village sign.

What next? Learn more about the Anglo-Saxons by visiting our Anglo-Saxon resources page.

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