CAMBRIDGE.- The period of the Conversion in the 7th-8th centuries was a vibrant time artistically, inspiring such treasurers as the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Franks Casket and the famous High Crosses. Yet these give mere glimpses of a much larger body of lost art. New finds of coinage and ornamental metalwork of this period have provided us with an alternative source of images which are artistically and intellectually outstanding.
This exhibition will show for the first time early Anglo-Saxon coins from the De Wit collection, recently purchased by the Fitzwilliam Museum with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund. These gold shillings and silver pennies display the most innovative range of pictorial and geometric designs drawn from Classical and Germanic sources. Despite the small scale, their bold images of people, animals, plants and geometric motifs are both rich in detail and sophisticated in concept. The exhibition will juxtapose them with contemporary ornamental metalwork drawn from other museums in the region.