Kim Coral profile

Student profile photo missing

Kim Coral

Royal Holloway University of London (2023)


Dr Jennifer Neville


Metallic voices: Conversations with inscribed metal jewellery in early medieval England


My project investigates inscribed metal jewellery’s interactions with humans in early medieval England. It is influenced by growing interest in epigraphy (Orton, 2014; Lenker & Kornexl, 2019), materialism (Tiffany, 2001; Cohen, 2015) and material culture (Webster, 2002; Davies, 2022) in medieval studies, and identifies inscribed metal jewellery as a meeting point through which all three are considered. Furthermore, it follows Catherine E. Karkov’s cue that "[w]riting visualizes voice, and the Anglo-Saxons used inscription to embed voice into objects" and that the resulting dialogue is relatively unexplored (2013, pp. 73–74), focusing on inscribed objects as vocal speakers in “conversations” with humans. My project unpacks how these objects’ voices, shaped by their inscribed (epigraphy), metal (materialism) and jewellery (material culture) statuses, engage Anglo-Saxon humans in conversations that lead them to consider their relationship with the material and their place and sense of control in the world.

In doing so, my project will shed new light on the interplay between the textual and material cultures of the period c. 400-1100. It takes a primarily literary approach – examining Old English poetry, across which treasure (many of them jewellery and metal artefacts) is “ubiquitous” (Tyler, 2016, p. 18) and including texts such as Beowulf, Solomon and Saturn and the Exeter Book Riddles – which it then broadens to the study of such artefacts. Thus, it will not only contribute to ongoing materialist and ecocritical discourse (Neville, 2013; Dale, 2017; Paz, 2017) regarding Old English poetry, but also push to include artefact inscription texts within this poetic corpus and context.