Jet and Glass Bead Necklace




Chrystal Antink

Hannah Clay

Elizabeth Foulds

For this week’s Finds Friday, we’re looking at another intricate necklace that was found inside a grave that had, unfortunately, been disturbed by a post-medieval field drain. The necklace itself is made from 85 jet and 16 glass beads and has no evidence of a clasp or fastening. Different types of glass beads were used in the creation of this piece: short blue biconical; blue globular; opaque yellow annular; metal-in-glass; and one blue rectangular (square-sectioned) bead.


There were several types of jet beads, including annular, short barrel, a smooth biconical type, cylindrical beads with incised decoration, short cylindrical beads, facetted, and segmented types with between two and four sections. It is assumed that the majority of these beads would have initially been shaped on a lathe before being sawn to form individual or segmented examples.


If the beads were strung in a single strand, it would have been approximately 720mm long. However, due to the alignment of the beads at the time of excavation, a reconstruction of the necklace has been difficult. Some beads were found in clusters, which suggested that at least a portion of the necklace may have been double-stranded.


Jet-bead necklaces tend to be dated to the latter half of the Roman period. Some necklaces were made completely from jet beads and some from a mixture of jet and glass beads; both types were popular throughout Roman Britain.

You can read more about this find, and others, in our monograph Death, Burial and Identity: 3000 Years of Death in the Vale of Mowbray

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