THE ALFRED JEWEL - OXFORD
One of Oxford's greatest treasures likely belonged to the legendary King Alfred the Great.
In the darkened galleries of the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, you’ll find an archeological treasure that, despite its diminutive size, is of priceless value to England and its history.
This fascinating archeological treasure is known as “the Alfred Jewel” due to the lettering that runs along its sides. The inscription reads “Aelfred mec heht gewyrcan,” which translates from Old English to “Alfred ordered me to be made.” These words leave little doubt that its creation was commissioned by a legendary figure in English history, King Alfred the Great.
As a young man King Alfred took the throne of Wessex after the death of his brother Aethelred in 871. As such, he also took on the daunting task of leading his people through incessant Viking invasions at a time when all of the Saxon kingdoms except Wessex had fallen under the control of the Nordic invaders.
For many years the young Alfred’s life was spent on the run. During this period he lived under conditions of constant travel, never able to stay for too long at any location and being sheltered by the charity of his followers. Danger was an ever present reality with assassination attempts , spies and ambushes never too far away. Considering such pressures, it’s a wonder that Alfred never gave up.
Alfred was also a man with a deep respect for education. In his late 30s, he learned Latin and helped translate of books into the Anglo-Saxon language and organized educational programs for his people.
It’s said that the jewel inspired some of the amulets depicted in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, as J.R.R. Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon studies at the University of Oxford.
Clancy's comment: A nice piece considering its age, eh?