Jewellery was very expensive to make so only people of high status could afford it. Wearing very fine jewellery was a good way of showing off how rich and important you were. Craftsmen would need to train for many years to gain the skills to make this jewellery
People in the Medieval period wore lots of things we would recognise today like necklaces, bracelets and rings but they also had decorated weapons, buckles, hairpins and arm-rings. Gold was the most popular precious metal to use because it was beautiful but also very easy to shape.
Gems were used for their colour and sparkle but also because it was believed that they could have medical power or religious meanings.
Unfortunately, most jewellery from this time was melted down and the materials were reused, so hardly any survives. This means that the West Yorkshire Hoard is extremely valuable for telling us what jewellery Anglo-Saxon people used to decorate themselves with and show off their wealth.
The Anglo-Saxons in West Yorkshire
Not much is known about the Anglo-Saxons living in West Yorkshire but we do know that King Edwin of Northumbria built a royal residence at Campodunum, which may be the present-day Leeds area.
Leeds was first referred to as Loidis in 730 in Bede’s ‘History of the English Church and People’.
Stone crosses found in the area suggest that the Anglo-Saxon settlement might have consisted mainly of an ecclesiastical site, or they mark the burial of important people. The West Yorkshire Hoard proves that there were some wealthy people in the area. The jewellery possibly could have belonged to someone from the nobility but the Church was also very rich so a religious person could have owned it.