I’m listening to Stronger by Mary J. Blige. Surprisingly, I’ve broken my rainy day writing streak. It’s a sunny day.
Archaeologists in England recently uncovered a bed with the body of a young Anglo-Saxon woman. A regal gold and garnet cross rested on her breast, and she is believed to be 1,300 years old from the period known as the dark ages.
Forensic work on the woman’s bones suggests she was about 16. There was no apparent explanation for her death. Most likely a Christian, she was buried with this beautiful cross stitched onto her gown and in the ancient pagan tradition with her treasured possessions: an iron knife and a chatelaine (a short chain that hangs from the belt used to carry keys), and some glass beads.
Pectoral crosses from the earliest times of Christianity in England and bed burials are very rare. The woman most likely wore the cross during her short life, at a time when the Anglo-Saxon aristocrats were slowly converting to the powerful new religion. Only an aristocrat or member of a royal family could have owned this gold and garnet cross.
The archaeologists who uncovered this site think this teenage girl must have been very important to own such a valuable cross and to be buried on her bed. I find it oddly poetic in a way. A much-loved child, perhaps, is given the most comforting internment possible. Even in her death she is important. Centuries later she’s been resurrected, bringing with her a precious artifact and a reminder that the past is real and that time holds many treasures and many stories. I’m driven to wonder—what was her name?