Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Pre-Christian Fylfots (Swastikas) in the British Isles

The initial article on the importance of the Fylfot with Odinism can be found here.


For some images and information of Fylfots found within British Churches and Cathedrals see here.

For British use of the Fylfot in the early 20th century see here.





6th Century CE. Norfolk, England

Fylfot


A most sacred symbol of the heathen Anglo-Saxons as well as all the pre-christian peoples of Europe. It has connections to the worship of both the sun & the Thunder God Þúnor (Thor), it can be found carved on many objects & places throughout England. Seems to have strong connections to burial as is found in grave goods & on cremation urns. It can also be found engraved upon weapons as it was a symbol of the strength of Þúnor. A warrior carrying such a weapon was blessed with his protection during battle, brooches were worn to invoke his protection as well. It is a shame that it is nowadays seen only as a symbol of evil, the complete opposite of it's true meaning. Perhaps education in the old ways & beliefs will eliminate this.


The fylfot symbol, also known as the swastika, was a most sacred of symbols to the Heathen Anglo-Saxons, and all the pre-Christian peoples of Europe. The symbol itself has connections to both the worship of the sun and the thunder god Thunor. 

In England the fylfot can be found in many places and carved on many objects throughout England. Amongst the Anglo-Saxons this particular symbol seems to have had very strong connections to burial, and maybe also the afterlife, for we find examples of it from graves, and carved on cremation urns from East Anglia. 

The Anglo-Saxons also carved the swastika upon their weapons as there is an example of such found on a hilt and sword belt found in Kent. It could be that the Anglo-Saxons believed that carving the swastika upon their weapons gave it the power and strength of Thunor, or maybe the warrior carrying the weapon was blessed with Thunors protection during battle. Aswell as these more war-like symbolic religious uses of the swastika, we also find it carved on simple items such as brooches. Which could show that that the wearer of the brooch claimed Thunor as his/her patron god, or that at times the swastika was used simply as a form of decoration.



The pagan Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo, England, contained numerous items bearing the swastika, now housed in the collection of the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.[40] The Swastika is clearly marked on a hilt and sword belt found at Bifrons in Kent, in a grave of about the 6th century.
Hilda Ellis Davidson theorized that the swastika symbol was associated with Thor, possibly representing his hammer Mjolnir - symbolic of thunder - and possibly being connected to the Bronze Age sun cross.[40] Davidson cites "many examples" of the swastika symbol from Anglo-Saxon graves of the pagan period, with particular prominence on cremation urns from the cemeteries of East Anglia.[40] Some of the swastikas on the items, on display at the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, are depicted with such care and art that, according to Davidson, it must have possessed special significance as afunerary symbol.[40] The runic inscription on the 8th-century Sæbø sword has been taken as evidence of the swastika as a symbol of Thor in Norse paganism.


















Below, Fylfot on Funeral Urn, 5 centrury ce, Engand

Below, Silver Fylfot Dragon disk brooch, 8th Century CE, England




















Below, Fylfots on funeral Urn, 5th Century CE. Norfolk, England




















Below, Gilded Saxon Fylfot disc brooch, 5th Century CE, England




















Below, Saxon Urn with Fylfots, 7th Century CE, England





















Below. Bronze Saxon Fylfot brooch, 5th Century CE, England














Below, Fylfot Decoration on Saxon brooch, 5th Century CE, England






















Below, Anglo Saxon Fylfot mount, 6th Century CE, England



















Below, Carving of Fylfots, Odin and his ravens, 11th Century CE, England


















Below, Fylfot depicted on warriors helmet, 6th Century CE. Sutton Hoo, England






















Below, Fylfot carved on stone monument, 9th Century CE, Ilse of Man4






















Below, Fylfot disk brooch, 6th Century CE. Birkshire, England


















Below, Fylfots on Early Anglo-Saxon Urn, 5th Century CE. Sancton, England



















Below, Fylfot Inscribed on Anglo Saxon Sword Hilt, 5th Century CE. Kent, England








































Below, Anglo Saxon brooch in the shape of a Swastika with horsehead shaped terminals.


























Below,  Early Anglo-Saxon urn with swastika motifs from North Elmham, Norfolk. - between 5th century and 6th century






















The early Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo, England, containednumerous items bearing the swastika, now housed in the collection of the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

The Swastika is clearly marked on a hilt and sword belt found at Bifrons in Bekesbourne, Kent, in a grave of about the 6th century.

Hilda Ellis Davidson theorized that the swastika symbol was associated with Thor, possibly representing his hammer Mjolnir - symbolic of thunder - and possibly being connected to the Bronze Age sun wheel.[1] Davidson cites"many examples" of the swastika symbol from Anglo-Saxon graves of the pagan period, with particular prominence on cremation urns from the cemeteries of East Anglia.[1Some of the swastikas on the items, on display at the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, are depicted with such care and art that, according to Davidson, it must have possessed special significance as a funerary symbol.[1] The runic inscription on the Sæbø sword (ca. AD 800) has been taken as evidence of the swastika as a symbol of Thor in Norse paganism.

Located on the Woodhouse Crag, on the Northern edge of Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire there is a swastika shaped pattern engraved in a stone, known as the Swastika Stone. IMAGE. In the figure in the foreground of the picture is a 20th century replica; the original carving can be seen a little further away, at the centre-left of the picture. [2] - http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/95      -      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika_Stone




Searching the 'Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology' I find reference to a "Openwork disc, "swastika" type." - see below. Can anyone get any images of this?

Quote:
SOURCE: Cambridgeshire County Council; Cra'ster.M.D. SOURCE DATE:
PLACE: Europe; British Isles; England; Cambridgeshire; Cambridge; Fen Ditton; Fleam Dyke (MAA: 1986-09-09)
PERIOD: Anglo Saxon
CONTEXT: See catalogue card for sketch diagram of object; Found: Fleam Dyke 'Old label accompanies objects, reads: "Found in the ditch during road widening. dd Cambs County Council and M.D. Cra'ster. Lent J.W. Clarke." S-J Harknett 27/4/2001' (MAA: 1986-09-09)



A search on the British museum website found a burial urn adorned with Swastikas:
Quote:
Early Anglo-Saxon, 5th-6th century AD
Probably from North Elmham, Norfolk


"... whether the swastika has any meaning in early Anglo-Saxon England or whether it is purely decorative, is uncertain."


An interesting find on the British Museum website also drew up a Anglo-Saxon Cremation Urn adorned with runic scripture:
Quote:
From: Loveden Hill, Lincolnshire
Date: 6th-7th century AD


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Some more information here:


and here:







In September 2010 I contact the Cambridge Museum with the below email. You can see their response below that.


To wmb24@cam.ac.uk

Dear Sir or Madam,

I wonder if you would kindly forward this on to the relevent department.

I am doing some research into the findings in Britain of the Fylfot (Swastika), in regard to a Germanic pre-Christian use of the symbol. 

Doing some research online, many reference come back to the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. In regard to this I have found the following:

The early Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo, England, contained numerous items bearing the swastika, now housed in the collection of the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. 

The Swastika is clearly marked on a hilt and sword belt found at Bifrons in Bekesbourne, Kent, in a grave of about the 6th century. 

Hilda Ellis Davidson theorized that the swastika symbol was associated with Thor, possibly representing his hammer Mjolnir - symbolic of thunder - and possibly being connected to the Bronze Age sun wheel.[1] Davidson cites "many examples" of the swastika symbol from Anglo-Saxon graves of the pagan period, with particular prominence on cremation urns from the cemeteries of East Anglia.[1] Some of the swastikas on the items, on display at the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, are depicted with such care and art that, according to Davidson, it must have possessed special significance as a funerary symbol.[1] The runic inscription on the Sæbø sword (ca. AD 800) has been taken as evidence of the swastika as a symbol of Thor in Norse paganism.

Not related to your museum, I have found the below of some interest: Located on the Woodhouse Crag, on the Northern edge of Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire there is a swastika shaped pattern engraved in a stone, known as the Swastika Stone. IMAGE. In the figure in the foreground of the picture is a 20th century replica; the original carving can be seen a little further away, at the centre-left of the picture. [2] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika_Stone

Doing a random search of your website I also find the below reference:

"Openwork disc, "swastika" type."
SOURCE: Cambridgeshire County Council; Cra'ster.M.D. SOURCE DATE: 
PLACE: Europe; British Isles; England; Cambridgeshire; Cambridge; Fen Ditton; Fleam Dyke (MAA: 1986-09-09)
PERIOD: Anglo Saxon
CONTEXT: See catalogue card for sketch diagram of object; Found: Fleam Dyke 'Old label accompanies objects, reads: "Found in the ditch during road widening. dd Cambs County Council and M.D. Cra'ster. Lent J.W. Clarke." S-J Harknett 27/4/2001' (MAA: 1986-09-09)

I do plan on visiting your museum to see these for myself but I wonder if you can help with location in the museum, images, further information or any other examples that you may have?

Also, do you know of any such other find in other museum in the country?

Kind regards and many thanks in advance for your help.




Their response:


Dear *********

Your email has been passed on to me. We do certainly have Anglo Saxon pots with the swasika symbol impressed on them. Unfortunately they are not on display at the moment as all our archaeology displays are being re-furbished. The whole museum will close on 6 November, probably for a year.

But researchers are still welcome. We do not have images. The Saxon material is at the museum site as well as at an out-of-town store so you might need a couple of days to look at everything. The museum's website gives a map as to our location.

Anne


Anne Taylor, Curatorial Assistant for Archaeology
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge,
Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DZ 
Tel: 01223 333509 or Email: at241@cam.ac.uk
To view the Museum's on-line database go to http://maa.cam.ac.uk 
and follow the links to COLLECTIONS and then to CATALOGUE


Below -
The bronze frontspiece of a ritual pre-Christian (c. 350-50 BC) shield found in the River Thames near Battersea Bridge (hence "Battersea Shield") is embossed with 27 swastikas in bronze and red enamel.[36] An Ogham stone found in Anglish, Co Kerry (CIIC 141) was modified into an early Christian gravestone, and was decorated with a cross pattée and two swastikas.[37] At the Northern edge of Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire, there is a swastika-shaped pattern engraved in a stone known as the Swastika Stone.[38]


















Below, A possible unfinished swastika design on the eastern end of Badger Stone, on Ilkley More, as above. http://www.stone-circles.org.uk/stone/badgerstone.htm



1 comment:

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