History of falconry in Anglo-Saxon England revealed by Richmond Professor in The Times

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Dr Robert J Wallis, Professor of Visual Culture at Richmond, has been featured this week in an article published by The Times, explaining how falconry was practised in Anglo-Saxon England hundreds of years earlier than previously thought.

The Times article, entitled ‘Talon spotters unearth origins of falconry’, explores Dr Wallis’s analysis of a gold ring which was found near Saffron Walden in Essex in 2011 and has been dated from AD580-650. In a paper in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Dr Wallis, who is an archaeologist and trained falconer, suggests the birds on the ring relate to falconry. Falconry was known to have been popular among medieval monarchs but previously had been traced back only to the 8th century based on records of gifts of falcons among the elite. Dr Wallis indicates that falconry was likely to have been brought to the UK from Sweden, where the sport is known to have existed earlier, based on burials of warriors with birds of prey and their quarry. With its distinctive juxtaposition of both pagan and Christian imagery on the ring, Dr Wallis examines the role of falconry as an elite sport, and the ring as a signifier of status, in the Conversion Period.

You can find more information on Dr Wallis’s work here: The ‘Northwest Essex Anglo-Saxon Ring‘, Falconry and Pagan-Christian Discursive Space. Cambridge Archaeological Journal. Published online by Cambridge University press 2 March 2020.

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