The Franks Casket: An Anglo-Saxon Synthesis of Religion, Literature and Art


  • Daniel Bray University of Sydney


The Franks Casket, named for Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks, who donated the casket to the British Museum in 1867, is one of the most distinctive pieces of Anglo-Saxon craftsmanship. A product of 8th century Northumbria, it draws upon many sources - artistic, literary and religious - from both the Germanic and the early Medieval European Christian traditions. By analysing these sources it is possible to learn more about the society, as well as the artisan, who produced it. The casket itself is quite small, about 20cm long and 10cm high, and has five carved panels made of whalebone. Each consists of a central picture and a surrounding border of runic inscriptions, except for the lid, which may once have had an inscription, but this is now lost.

Author Biography

Daniel Bray, University of Sydney

University of Sydney