Unlocking Early Anglo-Saxon Girdle-Hangers

Devon Sherman, 2011

Data copyright © Devon Sherman unless otherwise stated

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Devon Sherman (2011) Unlocking Early Anglo-Saxon Girdle-Hangers [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1000410


Illustration of a girdle-hanger

This project focuses on a poorly studied artefact from the early Anglo-Saxon period - girdle-hangers - that are most often found in female burials in southeastern England from the late 5th to early 7th century AD. With the aim of contextualizing girdle-hangers within the female costume and within the early Anglo-Saxon society at large, the project consolidates available evidence concerning 118 girdle-hangers from 36 sites.

The project compiles the evidence for girdle-hangers into a database, organizing the data about each specimen according to three analytical levels: the object itself, the grave that contained it, and the site in which it was discovered. Each row within the database corresponds to an individual girdle-hanger, numbered from 1 to 118, and each column corresponds to an attribute of the object, the grave, or the site.

The project records the material of each girdle-hanger as well as its condition (complete or broken), size, attachment mechanism, form, decoration, and any other striking attributes.

For each grave that contained one or more girdle-hangers, the project documents the burial method (inhumation or cremation), gender, age, number of individuals included in the burial, context of the girdle-hanger, the number of girdle-hangers associated with one another, and other items included in the grave.

The project recorded the basic information of each site where at least one girdle-hanger was unearthed, including the abbreviated site name, total number of burials, burial method (inhumation, cremation, or mixed), and ratio of female to male skeletons based on grave goods and/or skeletal remains. It also records the quantity of burials that included iron keys, weapons, and multiple skeletons to test whether these burial types are somehow correlated with the presence of girdle-hangers at sites within this sample.

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