This object could so easily have been overlooked – it is just a small lump of lead, a soft metal. However, on closer inspection, archaeologists realised it had the Runic alphabet inscribed on it. We’ll never know who did this, or why – perhaps they thought rather than throwing this scrap of lead away, it would be perfect for practising their handwriting!
This could be one of the earliest representations of this alphabet from Saxon times and is of national importance.
It was found at the site of what is believed to have been a Viking Hall, underneath what are now the remains of the cloisters in the Abbey Gardens, in Waltham Abbey. Pupils learn about this alphabet, how it was made of straight lines to make it easier to carve into stone, wood and metal. As part of the Anglo Saxon and Viking History Day they translate their own name into Runes to inscribe on the helmets they make!