Tim Rousham takes us behind the scenes of a case redisplay in the Anglo-Saxon gallery…
Using money from the “CIMovation” project, which allocated funds to anyone in the organisation with a worthy concept, two of the museum’s Viking Age swords have been X-rayed, with both the results and a recreation of the different stages of their construction going on display alongside the original objects. There will be new interpretation to support and give better context to these objects, which are often overlooked in terms of their incredible craftsmanship and beauty.
The Anglo-Saxon technique of pattern-welding, often mistaken for “Damascus steel”, was a complex and ingenious method. The new display aims to shine a light on how this unique skill was integral to swords such as the ones on display, as well as how visually stunning blades like these would have been in their prime.
There will also be various other forms of Anglo-Saxon metalwork displayed alongside the swords, including the spectacular “Boss Hall Brooch”, which has been off display in Ipswich since 2019. Not only is it visually arresting, as an incredible example of gold and garnet cloisonné, the Boss Hall Brooch is an invaluable historical document; found in a woman’s grave in an Ipswich cemetery, it dates from the late 7th century when furnished burials were becoming increasingly scarce due to changes in religious beliefs and practices. Ipswich Museum is fortunate to have such a stunning example of a wealthy, powerful local woman’s possession from this period and is happy to be able to share this object with the public once again.
The redisplayed case will be available for the public to view from mid-May in the Anglo-Saxon gallery. Find out more about visiting on the Ipswich Museum website.