A new (to me) interpretation of the Middleham Jewel….

Reverse of the Middleham Jewel, by Susan Troxell

While reading a paper (entitled Magic for the Dead? The Archaeology of Magic in Later Medieval Burials by Roberta Gilchrist) about medieval magic and graves, I came upon the following extract:

“….Healing and protective charms. Later medieval charms were usually religious in nature and comprised mystical words (such as ANIZAPTA) or traditional Christian names, such as those of the Magi. They were more often recited or sung but were also inscribed on jewellery or other forms of material culture. We seldom recover apotropaic jewellery from graves, and celebrated examples such as the Middleham Jewel (North Yorkshire) and the Ingelby Arncliffe Crucifix (North Yorkshire) were metal-detected or chance finds.35….

“….35 Ibid, 357; Jones and Olsan 2000; Skemer 2006, 10, 158–9….”

The Middleham Jewel – wikimedia commons

I confess to having resort to a dictionary for apotropaic, which Merriam-Webster tells me means “designed to avert or turn aside evil, as in <an apotropaic ritual — J. H. Moulton>”

And also the meaning of ANIZAPTA, which also turns up as ANANIZAPTA and which led me to the Stadtmuseum website . This link takes you to an article about the Middleham Jewel, and casts a light upon it that I have never come across before. Am I simply ignorant for believing it was simply a beautiful item of jewellery? Instead it seems it was an apotropaic item to avert or turn aside evil!

The Ingolstadt Stadtmuseum article is well worth a read. To read about the Museum itself, its website is here

To read about the Middleham Jewel and see illustrations, of which one is seen at the beginning of my article, go to here.

There is another article about the Middleham Jewel and “magic” called Middleham JewelRitualPower, and Devotion. Peter Murray Jones and Lea TOlsan. Viator, 31 (2000) which I haven’t as yet managed to read.

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