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The Alfred Jewel

925 of 1160 nominations


The Alfred Jewel

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The Alfred Jewel

One of the greatest treasures of Oxford's Ashmolean Museum is the Alfred Jewel, a richly decorated gold, crystal and enamel ornament, carrying a portrait of Christ. It was discovered in 1693 near Athelney, where King Alfred the Great (ruled 871-899) founded a monastery. The link with the King was made clear by an Anglo-Saxon inscription around the side which says, "Alfred ordered me to be made".

The jewel's iconic status derives from Alfred, the first monarch to style himself King of England. His successful defence of his kingdom against the Danes earned him the epithet, "the Great", which no other English monarch possesses.

Although the jewel's purpose is uncertain, it is possible that it was the handle for a book pointer, for following words of text. It may have been used by the King himself, for Alfred was also a writer, translator and patron of learning.

Photo: The Alfred Jewel, gold, enamel and rock crystal, 6.2cm long, 3.1cm wide, 1.3cm deep c. 871-899. Courtesy of the Ashmolean Museum


Your comments

A potent symbol of all the potential of England that was to come. Alfred's, possibly, own bookmark made for a king who encouraged literacy for all. A shining jewel from the so-called Dark Ages. Also, beautiful to look at.

Peter Bennett

This is the great treasure of the Ashmolean, in the same way that the Sutton Hoo treasure is of the British Museum and the Lindisfarne Gospels are of the British Library. If you are anywhere near Oxford it is not to be missed.
Thomas Meehan

To see this nomination receiving such a lukewarm reception is disheartening and shows an astounding lack of knowledge of significant English historical/archaeological icons among the voters on this site.
Cyne Hill

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I believe rice, peas and jerk chicken is an Icon of England.

Ade Adeluwoye