The Alfred Jewel

 

31 January -28 February 2015

 

The Alfred Jewel, one of the most celebrated treasures from Anglo-Saxon England, recently returned to Somerset for the first time in nearly 300 years.

 

Through the kindness of the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, the Jewel was on display at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton during the month of February 2015.

 

The Jewel, which dates from the late 9th century, was found near North Petherton church in 1693.  It is lavishly made of gold, enamel and rock crystal and includes the image of a seated figure. It also bears a famous inscription which translates as ‘Alfred ordered me to be made’.

 

It has long been assumed that King Alfred the Great commissioned the Jewel, and that it may have been his gift to the abbey at Athelney which he founded in thanksgiving for his defeat of the Vikings in 878.

 

Tom Mayberry, Chief Executive of the South West Heritage Trust, said, “The Alfred Jewel is a unique and compelling object which goes to the heart of West Country history. It left Somerset in 1718 and has never returned, so this is a very special occasion.

 

“We are deeply grateful to the Ashmolean Museum for making possible the loan of one of its greatest treasures. We are also very grateful to Arts Council England who contributed to the costs of the exhibition and without whose practical support the loan could not have happened.”

 

David Gwyther, Chairman of the South West Heritage Trust, said, “This is a fantastic opportunity to see one of England’s undoubted national treasures.  We hope as many people as possible will visit the Museum of Somerset during February to experience this unique and beautiful survival from the distant past.”

 

Dr Alexander Sturgis, Director of the Ashmolean Museum, said, ‘The Alfred Jewel is an iconic object of Anglo-Saxon England and one of the most popular treasures at the Ashmolean.  For that reason, we rarely part with it, but it is a huge pleasure to lend the Jewel to the Museum of Somerset and thereby return it to its home county, if only for a month.  I hope as many people as possible from Somerset and the region go along to see the real Jewel and learn about this extraordinary and evocative object.’

 

 

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The Musuem of Somerset has many spectacular and unique exhibits on display and is open from Tuesday through to Saturday every week from 10am to 5pm. Entry to the Museum is free.

 

There is also a long list of events and activities being hosted at the Museum of Somerset over the next few months. Visit the main website of the Museum here to find out more:

 

www.museumofsomerset.org.uk