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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Kent

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Immigration and Emigration
Evidence of the Jutes

Many hundreds of gold bracteates have been found in Scandinavia. The images and runic inscriptions link them closely to the cult of the powerful Germanic god Odin, or Woden. The Scandinavian bracteates cluster in locations known to be important centres of influence, and convey an image of their wearers as members of a wealthy and powerful elite.

The images of Kentish bracteates are particularly closely related to those found in Jutland
Human remains
Graves of Kentish women adorned in jewellery
© Canterbury Archaeological Trust Ltd
as the distribution map shows. The graves of the fourteen Kentish women buried with bracteates were exceptionally richly furnished with precious jewellery. The cemeteries in which they have been found are all linked to early royal sites in Kent east of the Medway and one of the cemeteries is close to the only place known in Kent to be of religious significance in the cult of Woden.

To give an example, two women with bracteates were buried in Finglesham. The place-name means ‘home of a prince’, and it is close to Eastry. This place-name is one of the earliest Germanic place-names, denoting the centre of an early administrative area of Kent, as does Lyminge, where another grave with a bracteate was found.

Close to Finglesham and Eastry is Woodnesborough. The place-name means ‘Woden’s mound’. The association between rich female graves, Scandinavian-style bracteates belonging to the cult of Woden and royal and religious sites in Kent is considered highly significant. These women were most probably linked to the Kentish royal house.

Words: Charlotte Behr

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