On this page you can learn about some of our star objects. Perhaps you have seen the Museum bollard in the market square of Saffron Walden, or perhaps you are just interested to see some of the most interesting objects we have at the Museu, either way this is the right page!
Object One: The North Essex Ring
Where to see it: Archaeology gallery (Great Hall), Treasure case
This gold signet ring was found by a metal-detectorist in north-west Essex in 2011. The ring dates from about 580-650 AD and may have belonged to an early Anglo-Saxon king. The ring combines symbols from the pagan, Germanic world and late Roman Christian tradition. It has an engraving of a large bird-of-prey, in an Anglo-Saxon style, above a belted human figure, holding a cross in one hand and a smallerbird-of-prey on the other. Most Anglo-Saxon people could not read
so strong symbols and images were often used to express meaning and identity.
Object two: Tii Vahine
Where to see: Worlds Cultures Gallery
This carved wooden figure shows Tii Vahine, the Goddess of Revenge. Tii Vahine was worshipped by the inhabitants of Tahiti, in the Society Islands. The figure is likely to have been taken from a shrine or place of worship. It was collected by George Bennet, a missionary who collected many items during his voyage around the world between 1821 and 1829. He donated it to the museum in 1835. In a letter to the museum, Bennet described the figure as a “heathen idol”.
Such figures were often collected by missionaries as a symbol of their "success" in converting people to Christianity.