As to the value of the bronze coins we are without information.
The purchasing power of money was very great. The sheep was valued at a shilling in both Wessex and Mercia, from early times till the 11th century. One pound was the normal price of a slave and half a pound that of a horse. The price of a pig was twice, and that of an ox six times as great as that of a sheep. Regarding the prices of commodities other than live-stock we have little definite information, though an approximate estimate may be made of the value of arms. It is worth noticing that we often hear of payments in gold and silver vessels in place of money. In the former case the mancus was the usual unit of calculation.
12. Ornaments. - Of these the most interesting are the brooches which were worn by both sexes and of which large numbers have been found in heathen cemeteries. They may be classed under eight leading types: (1) circular or ring-shaped, (2) cruciform, (3) square-headed, (4) radiated, (5) S-shaped, (6) bird-shaped, (7) disk-shaped, (8) cupelliform or saucer-shaped. Of these Nos. 5 and 6 appear to be of continental origin, and this is probably the case also with No. 4 and in part with No. 7. But the last-mentioned type varies greatly, from rude and almost plain disks of bronze to magnificent gold specimens studded with gems. No. 8 is believed to be peculiar to England, and occurs chiefly in the southern Midlands, specimens being usually found in pairs. The interiors are gilt, often furnished with detachable plates and sometimes set with brilliants. The remaining types were probably brought over by the Anglo-Saxons at the time of the invasion. Nos. 1 and 3 are widespread outside England, but No. 2, though common in Scandinavian countries, is hardly to be met with south of the Elbe. It is worth noting that a number of specimens were found in the cremation cemetery at Borgstedterfeld near Rendsburg. In England it occurs chiefly in the more northern counties.
Nos. 2 and 3 vary greatly in size, from 2&FRAC12; to 7 in. or more. The smaller specimens are quite plain, but the larger ones are gilt and generally of a highly ornamental character. In later times we hear of brooches worth as much as six mancusas, i.e. equivalent to six oxen.
Among other ornaments we may mention hairpins, rings and ear-rings, and especially buckles which are often of elaborate workmanship. Bracelets and necklets are not very common, a fact which is rather surprising, as in early times, before the issuing of a coinage, these articles (beagas) took the place of money to a large extent. The glass vessels are finely made and of somewhat striking appearance, though they closely resemble contemporary continental types. Since the art of glass-working was unknown, according to Bede, until nearly the end of the 7th century, it is probable that these were all of continental or Roman-British origin.
13. Amusements. - It is clear from the frequent references to dogs and hawks in the charters that hunting and falconry were keenly pursued by the kings and their retinues. Games, whether indoor or outdoor, are much less frequently mentioned, but there is no doubt that the use of dice (taefl) was widespread. At court much time was given to poetic recitation, often accompanied by music, and accomplished poets received liberal rewards. The chief musical instrument was the harp (hearpe), which is often mentioned. Less frequently we hear of the flute (pipe) and later also of the fiddle (fiðele). Trumpets (horn, swegelhorn, byme) appear to have been used chiefly as signals.
14. Writing. - The Runic alphabet seems to have been the only form of writing known to the Anglo-Saxons before the invasion of Britain, and indeed until the adoption of Christianity. In its earliest form, as it appears in inscriptions on various articles found in Schleswig and in Scandinavian countries, it consisted of twenty-four letters, all of which occur in abecedaria in England. In actual use, however, two letters soon became obsolete, but a number of others were added from time to time, some of which are found also on the continent, while others are peculiar to certain parts of England. Originally the Runic alphabet seems to have been used for writing on wooden boards, though none of these have survived. The inscriptions which have come down to us are engraved partly on memorial stones, which are not uncommon in the north of England, and partly on various metal objects, ranging from swords to brooches. The adoption of Christianity brought about the introduction of the Roman alphabet; but the older form of writing did not immediately pass out of use, for almost all the inscriptions which we possess date from the 7th or following centuries.
Coins with Runic legends were issued at least until the middle of the 8th century, and some of the memorial stones date probably even from the 9th. The most important of the latter are the column at Bewcastle, Cumberland, believed to commemorate Alhfrith, the son of Oswio, who died about 670, and the cross at Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire, which is probably about a century later. The Roman alphabet was very soon applied to the purpose of writing the native language, e.g. in the publication of the laws of aethelberht. Yet the type of character in which even the earliest surviving MSS. are written is believed to be of Celtic origin. Most probably it was introduced by the Irish missionaries who evangelized the north of England, though Welsh influence is scarcely impossible. Eventually this alphabet was enlarged (probably before the end of the 7th century) by the inclusion of two Runic letters for th and w.
15. Marriage. - This is perhaps the subject on which our information is most inadequate. It is evident that the relationships which prohibited marriage were different from those recognized by the Church; but the only fact which we know definitely is that it was customary, at least in Kent, for a man to marry his stepmother. In the Kentish laws marriage is represented as hardly more than a matter of purchase; but whether this was the case in the other kingdoms also the evidence at our disposal is insufficient to decide. We know, however, that in addition to the sum paid to the bride's guardian, it was customary for the bridegroom to make a present (morgengifu) to the bride herself, which, in the case of queens, often consisted of a residence and considerable estates. Such persons also had retinues and fortified residences of their own. In the Kentish laws provision is made for widows to receive a proportionate share in their husbands' property.