The wonder of this spectacular necklace isn't that the beads survived from Britain's age of Roman conquest -- beads often last -- but that their arrangement into this particular form probably dates from relatively soon afterward. I don't know about you, but that much history gives me the shivers (in a good way).
According to an expert, this is exactly the sort of strand created by Britons of the Anglo-Saxon period, as found in some burials circa 600 to 1000. Their necklaces used beads left by the Romans, whose conquest of Britain dated from circa 43 to 410. Even considering that Roman rule was at its height around the year 160, the beads weren't all that old when they left and the Germanic Anglo-Saxons became dominant.
These are very nice beads, indeed - made of colorful ceramic, glass and natural stone. A few appear to be amber. Measuring almost 17 1/4 inches plus clasp, the strand is weighty with these ancient treasures. Its latest restringing probably took place at least a century ago, based on the Victorian fish-hook clasp. That adds even more history, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to restring them soon for security's sake.
The necklace was acquired from a specialist London dealer around 1980 and the prior owner recalls it was expensive even then and without knowledge of its Anglo-Saxon connection. If you've priced Roman beads lately, you know that just a small handful of random finds can easily go for a couple of hundred dollars. That makes our sale price for this very special necklace quite a bargain.
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