Today’s image for Day 269 of the VM_365 project shows two different views of the Anglo Saxon shell beads that were found in Grave 33 at the Monkton Anglo Saxon cemetery in 1982.
These two shell beads are most likely carved from Cowrie shell, the ribbing along their edges being the natural lip of the shell. These beads were probably imported along the same trade route from Byzantium as the amethyst beads found in the same grave and featured in yesterday’s VM_365 Day 268 post.
Cowrie shells have been found in other 7th century graves on Thanet in Grave 238 at Sarre and Grave 323 at St Peters, Broadstairs. They have also been found in graves of a similar date at Wingham and Kingston, Kent. Those shells, however were whole and the suggestion is that they were treated as amulets. We do not know whether the beads found in the grave at Monkton arrived in Thanet as part of a whole shell and were carved locally or whether they were imported already crafted into beads.