Ashmolean Museum Oxford

Alfred Jewel Brooch

by The Bill Skinner Studio


Designed exclusively for the Ashmolean Museum by celebrated jewellery designer Bill Skinner, this stunning gold brooch is inspired by the Alfred Jewel. Thought to have been commissioned by Anglo Saxon king Alfred the Great during his 9th century AD reign, the Alfred Jewel is one of the museum’s most beloved historic artefacts.

Crafted to closely resemble the famed royal relic, this designer brooch has been cast in glittering 14K gold plated brass and features a genuine freshwater pearl, a luxurious addition to the original design.

The central image, a figure believed by historians to represent the sense of sight, is hand enamelled and protected by a clear optical acrylic lens. Just like the iconic Alfred Jewel itself, this brooch is ringed with the openwork inscription AELFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN, which translates to ‘Alfred ordered me to be made’. The brooch is completed with a gold-plated dragon’s head-like design at its base while a secure brooch pin with locking C clasp keeps it firmly in place, giving the owner peace of mind when wearing this precious jewellery item out and about.

A beautiful addition to a jacket or cardigan and ideal for fastening a scarf, this unique craftsman made gold brooch with pure white pearl detail is the perfect gift for the most stylish of history buffs and will be instantly recognisable to Ashmolean visitors, who will undoubtedly love what is widely regarded as among the most treasured pieces in the museum’s vast collection. Quite unlike any other piece of commercially available jewellery, this brooch is a real talking point and is bound to be treasured for a lifetime.

Unearthed in 1693 during the ploughing of a field, what is now known as the Alfred Jewel was discovered in North Petherton, Somerset, just a few short miles from Athelney Abbey from where King Alfred the Great (r. 871 – 899) launched his counter attack against the Great Army of the Vikings. The Alfred Jewel is believed to be the handle of an Anglo Saxon aestel, or pointer, used to help readers follow the text in religious manuscripts. It’s generally thought that the dragon’s head portion of the Alfred Jewel would have held the aestel’s stick-like pointer, likely made of ivory and held in place by a rivet. Made of filigreed gold, the Alfred Jewel features a delicate cloisonné enamel decoration, in turn protected by a slice of rock crystal, or quartz. Over a thousand years old, the Alfred Jewel features an inscription that indicates that the aestel was probably commissioned by King Alfred himself, the only British Monarch to have been honoured with the title ‘the Great’.

Materials: 14k gold-plated brass, enamel, & acrylic with a fresh water pearl

Dimensions: approx 5cm length