8thC. Anglo Saxon aestle/page turner

Contributed by Peter Twinn

8thC. Anglo Saxon aestle/page turner

This rare Anglo Saxon artifact was discovered on the University of Bristol's research excavation at Berkeley Castle, run by Prof. Mark Horton and Dr. Stuart Prior, with the kind permission of Mr John Berkeley, owner of Berkeley Castle and Estate.

This object reveals evidence for some of the earliest post-Roman reading and writing, from a double minster that existed at Berkeley during the mid to late Anglo Saxon period. It would suggest there was a scriptorium on this site, where monks wrote or copied texts as well as reading them. Page turners were used to prevent dirty fingers, with all kinds of chemicals on them, from spoiling the vellum that the books, charters etc were written on.

There are other later, more famous, aestle's made of gold such as the Alfred Jewel or the Minster Lovell Jewel, so this may have been a forerunner of these richer later examples. The Berkeley aestle is made of a flattened and rolled single sheet of copper alloy, with a pierced Celtic type cross engraved and then gilded to give it a high status finish.
There is currently no known parallel's to this find in the UK, making it unique!

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Berkeley, Gloucestershire


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