A Saxon or Viking faience melon bead with turquoise glaze. 8th - 9th Century AD.
Made from faience, a fused combination of crushed quartz and other components, melon beads are found in both domestic and military contexts and examples can be seen in most museums. It does seem that turquoise faience beads are extremely common in military contexts. These beads may have be a signifier of rank or status.
Faience melon beads were produced in a range of sizes and have wide perforations and convex profiles with vertical or slightly diagonal grooves scored into the outside surface. They were produced in a range of blue shades ranging from light turquoise to bright blue, often with a greyish core. In many cases the glaze has completely disappeared or survives only in the grooves. The wide range of bead sizes and colours shows how popular they were, and also how individual each bead was. They are often found in connection with burials in Britain.
Dimensions: Dia. 1.6cm.
Provenance: Ex. Private collection, UK. Found in Suffolk, England.