The Ravens Warband

Glossary of Anglo-Saxon Terms

Annular Brooch

This common type of decoration is found in many graves from our period. The most common use for the brooch, other than pure decoration, is as a clasp for a cloak. These brooches were worn on special occasions, but only ever once a year - hence their name.


Anyone studying or talking about the linguistic aspects of our period will no doubt come across this phrase frequently. It is a derogatory term for an early English cattle farmer with continental parents.

Scandinavian Link

All Dark Age buffs throw around the references to Sutton Hoo (Sutton who?), this is an integral part of the hobby. One of the most fascinating finds from Sutton Hoo is the so-called "Scandinavian Link". It is a small piece of chain, highly decorated in design similar to that found in 6th century Sweden. Therefore it is clearly Swedish. Or made by a Swede. Or made in an area of Swedish influence. Or made to look Swedish.


This is a particularly important term, and rather an abstract one. It refers to the bonding between a thane and his troops. This bonding is cemented at feast where the thane traditionally provides his troops with a particularly red variety of potato.

Taplow Bucks

The Taplow Bucks were a band of extremely mediocre warriors, but to their credit, extremely ferocious feast-goers, as anyone who has attended a Taplow Bucks party will know (providing of course, that they survived). The Taplow Bucks are renowned for their wild drinking games and particularly their highly decorated drinking horns.

Offa's Dyke

As the history books at school taught us, Offa spent most of his time erecting enormous earthworks to keep the Welsh off his land. However this had the side effect of keeping Offa off his wife. It is then no surprise that she spent most of her time with Offa's handmaidens - hence her nickname!

Shield boss

The Shield boss is quite simply the thane in a "scyld-burh"

Edington Wilts

In 878 King Alfred overcame a massive Danish army, led by Guthrum. (The Danish Army that is, not King Alfred). This saw off the pagan threat to England, and was undoubtedly a glorious victory. The Anglo-Saxons were so please with their triumph that they threw a massive feast. It is rumoured that the Taplow Bucks were invited. From that late night onwards, the sight of the battle is remembered by many a warrior who has drunk too much and suffered from the Edington Wilts.

Dave Preece

© 1992

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