Acquiring, flaunting and destroying silk in late Anglo-Saxon England



This paper argues that silk was ubiquitous in England in the late Anglo-Saxon period. It also contends that when examined in the context of its use, it becomes clear that the deployment of silk was symbolic. People of means moved heaven and earth to get silk because it allowed them to appropriate its associated meanings for themselves. So, after establishing silk's ubiquity and its uses, the paper teases out its ideological underpinnings. Finally, the paper investigates the economics of silk. In the end it strives to prove that a whole spectrum of people acquired, displayed, and sometimes even destroyed silk, because it made others see them as they wished to be seen.