Look around you and take in the spread of stones across the ground – this is an area with distinct historical significance. The clues are in the name of this site: Wigber most likely originates from the Anglo-Saxon name of ‘Wigca’ and ‘Low’ meant small hill or burial ground. This barrow was first built between 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, but several Anglo-Saxon graves from between 500 to 600 CE were later inserted into the mound. The use of gold and silver in the following objects found at Wigber Low indicate the wealth of some of those buried at this site during the Saxon period.
The pendant above was found in the barrow of Wigber Low and excavated in 1869. It dates back to around 500-600 CE and is made up of silver, gold and garnet. It features a cross-shaped head, arms set with garnets around a central cabochon with gold filigree and a beaded wire border.
This amulet was also excavated from Wigber low in the same year and comprises of a beaver tooth mounted in a ribbed gold tube with a small suspension loop. Teeth of animals are often found in Anglo-Saxon graves, but beaver teeth most commonly only appear in 7th Century graves, which is the date of this particular object.
Whilst the above objects were both excavated in 1869, later excavations were conducted (1975-6) and further human remains, pottery, metal, stone, glass, silver and gold objects were found at the site. For more information on Wigbar Low and the findings made here please see John Collis’ book: Wigber Low Derbyshire: A Bronze Age and Anglian Burial Site in the White Peak.
Before the mound was built, during the Neolithic (6,000 – 4,000 years ago), ‘exposure’ of the dead took place here, where bodies would be left on the stone platform of Wigber Low, exposed to the elements and wildlife of this raised site before later being buried. In the early Bronze Age (c.4,000 years ago) a barrow was built in which to bury certain members of society.
The above 0bjects have been kindly lent by the Trustees of the British Museum. To see the British Museum’s online collections databases featuring the silver and gold pendant or the beaver tooth amulet, please follow the links.