A workshop on Anglo-Saxon Warfare and Jewellery delivered by Tony North

This workshop is designed to cover the Anglo-Saxons unit of the KS2 National Curriculum for History. It is suitable for year 5 or 6*.

Main Activities:

1. Learn about Anglo-Saxon weapons and armour

2. Make shields and helmets

3. Learn about Anglo-Saxon gold and silver jewellery

4. Make jewellery

Fee: £299 per class for the whole day.

Maximum 32 children/class.

To book: contact Tony North at tnorth67@hotmail.com

Phone: 0161 224 6445 or Mob 07754 406422


*Note: the art activities are challenging and are only suitable for classes with good art and crafts abilities, as well as good skills in listening and following instructions. In order to carry out the full range of activities at least 2 actively helping adults will be required (see further details below).

Preparing for the workshop


Feedback from teachers and children 'The children thoroughly enjoyed the hands on workshop and were able to produce some fantastic artwork.'

Decoration on the end of the Sutton Hoo sword

Photos of Workshops:

Jewellery        Weapons/Armour




After the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th century the peoples of northern Europe - Angles, Saxons and Jutes - quickly moved to fill the power void left in Britain, settling, taking control, and introducing their culture to the Britons.

1500 years later we still owe a great deal to these peoples, in our language, culture, and genetic inheritance. This workshop takes a look at two essential aspects of Anglo-Saxon life - warfare and jewellery. The many stunning works in gold and silver left by the craftsmen reveal that this period is unfairly known as a Dark Age.

Children will learn about the legacy of the Anglo-Saxons and create two works of art - a helmet or shield, and a piece of gold or silver jewellery. The materials and methods are of a very high quality and you will be impressed with the results.

We will also look at replicas of a sword, seax, shield and helmet in the morning, and replicas of jewellery in the afternoon. Children also get to write their names in runes and try rune puzzles.





The Kingston Brooch - perhaps the finest example of Anglo-Saxon jewellery, now in the Liverpool Museum

(also the background to this page).

Lesson Plan

Morning Session: Warfare

I will set out materials for the warfare craft activity before the lesson starts. I will need some children to help.


1. Introduction to the Anglo-Saxons (15 mins)

Who were the Anglo-Saxons? Where did they come from and why? What changes did they bring to Britain and its people? (look at photos, maps, artistic reconstructions etc. on the whiteboard)

2. Anglo-Saxon Warfare (15 mins)

A look at Anglo-Saxon warriors and their gear. Children will see my replicas of a sword, seax, helmet and shield:

Click photo for a larger version.


Replica of a seax (possibly used for hunting)

My replica of the Coppergate helmet

The real Coppergate Helmet, in the Yorkshire Museum in York. Mostly iron, it has now rusted. It was owned by a nobleman, and has two gold bands inscribed with a Christian prayer, and his name, Oshere.

Click here to see the inscription and its translation


3. Make helmets and shields (100-120 mins)


Children will work in pairs to make Anglo-Saxon helmets and shields. They use a wide variety of high quality materials such as strong card, gold and silver metallic card, strong glue, and sellotape. The finished items look amazing and make a wonderful display.


As the helmets are difficult and time consuming a maximum of 4 pairs will make them. Please note that 2 active adult helpers are required in order to make both helmets and shields. If fewer adults are present we will just make shields.


Lunch Break


We will need some children or adults to help set out the materials for the jewellery making in the afternoon.


Making a helmet at Sutton Oaks Primary


The shield found at Sutton Hoo

(early 7th century burial of a king)

The famous Sutton Hoo helmet, in the British Museum




Replica of the Coppergate helmet which children will make. The helmet is made with gold and silver card,

templates, and bronze coloured tulle fabric, to give a chainmail effect.






Shields were usually round with a conical boss. Little is known about the designs although metal decorations have been found and traces of colours painted on the front.


Children can choose from various designs. The rim was bound with leather. In the workshop brown wrapping paper is used.


Click photo to see larger version



A real shield boss


If any children finish they can do a rune worksheet. They can write their name in runes, then put them on their helmet or shield.


Side view of a reconstruction of the Sutton Hoo helmet

The Sutton Hoo sword (British Museum) and the Gilling Sword (Yorkshire Museum)


Afternoon Session: Jewellery

1. Introduction to Anglo-Saxon Art and Jewellery (30 mins)

Children learn about Anglo-Saxon metalwork such as brooches and clasps. Like the weapons and armour seen in the morning, these items were beautifully decorated. Given the impressive artistry of Anglo-Saxon jewellery, one might ask whether this period should really be called the Dark Ages.

Can you see two boars, as well as two birds?

We will look at photos (see examples below) as well as some replicas of gold and silver jewellery (made in the same way that the children will make their own copies). These items often have features such as animals (e.g. snakes and birds) hidden in the intricate details of the artwork. These can be fun to try to find and we will play a game of 'spot the animal' (see Sutton Hoo clasp above).


The bird decoration on the Sutton Hoo shield



Afternoon Session: Jewellery, continued

2. Making Jewellery (90+ mins)

Children now make their own jewellery. They use special gold and silver foil for embossing, as well as carefully designed paper templates, red glass pebbles and red sticky back vinyl (to represent the garnet stones inlaid in brooches), embossing tools, gold and black permanent marker pens, and ballpoint pens.

The foil is tricky to work with and easily damaged, so lower ability children will use high quality gold card instead of the foil (as well as red vinyl and gold pens).

Please note that due to the complex nature of this activity, at least 2 extra adults will be required as active helpers in order to do the full range of jewellery items. If fewer adults are present we will avoid the more difficult items and do the 3 easier categories (a total of 9 designs).

The photos above and below give an idea of what these items will look like. There are 8 designs, to suit a range of abilities. Children work on their own. Click here to see large photos of the replicas plus the originals

Centre of the Strickland Brooch

One of the decorations on the outside of the Fuller Brooch (there are 3 to choose from)


Support needed

This activity is challenging, but intensive teaching and support will be given. To ensure good outcomes, however, it will be necessary to get extra adults in to help (TAs or parents) - both for this and the warfare session.

The photos below show some of the original jewels.

The Strickland Brooch (British Museum) (11.2cm)

Brooches were usually made with gold, silver, garnet, niello, glass, and shell.

The Ixworth Cross: a 7th century jewel made from gold, glass and garnet. Shown actual size (5cm).

This is one of the easier items for children to copy in the morning. The copy children make is 10cm and made from gold card, red vinyl and gold Sharpie pen (see below).

Click here to see more photos of the jewellery

anglo-saxon brooch

The Fuller Brooch (British Museum)

anglo-saxon brooch

Belt buckle from Sutton Hoo






Feedback from Teachers and Children on the Anglo-Saxons Workshop

'I just wanted to send a quick email to say thank you for yesterday. The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves and have asked if you could come back again.' - Marie-Claire Cooke, Year 5 teacher, All Saints RC Primary, Sale (2017)


'We would like to thank Tony North for an amazing workshop and insight into the lives of the Anglo-Saxons. The children thoroughly enjoyed the day and made some very impressive artefacts of an unbelievably high standard. The level of detail that goes into the craftwork is outstanding. The children were so proud and were truly amazed at what they had managed to produce.

The session was well prepared, structured and implemented and Tony North made it look effortless. The quality of the shields, helmets and jewellery is exceptional. We will definitely be contacting Time Trips again in the future and would highly recommend this workshop for upper Key Stage 2 pupils.' - Nicola Cadwallader, Year 5 Teacher, Our Lady of Lourdes RC Primary, Bury (2016) 


'The day was very informative for the children and engaging. The children learnt something new from their workshop. The children really enjoyed making the swords and armour. The morning activities were brilliant, the children were really stuck in and focused on the jewellery making.' - Chloe Hamer and Rebecca Male, Year 5 teachers, Brandwood Primary, Bolton (2016)


'The children had a fantastic day. They have said it was fun, exciting and wanted you to come back again!! Please find attached pics of artwork and some writing they produced about the day. Many thanks - we learned lots and had fun doing it.' - Annette Mitchell, Year 5 teacher, St. Aidan's RC Primary, Manchester (2016)


Armour half day:

'The children had a fantastic time handling the Anglo-Saxon replica artefacts. They thoroughly enjoyed the hands on workshop and due to the quality of resources, they were able to produce some fantastic artwork. This was a memorable day for our children who have now been inspired to find out much more about Anglo-Saxon weaponry.' - Mike Burgess, Year 4 teacher, St. George's Primary, Hyde (2015)


'May I say once again what a super workshop you delivered. The children were totally engaged with the making of the shields, swords and helmets. They loved dressing up and seeing the artefacts you brought with you. The resources you gave to the children to enable them in the making were superb. Here is a selection of their comments:

"It was the best morning in Year 5"

"When the shields were done they looked amazing!"

"We hope that Mr North will come again."

"Everyone really enjoyed the day and we would think you would love it too!"

"We would like Mr North to come again because we had great fun!"'

- Annette Mitchell, Year 5 teacher, St.Aidan's RC Primary, Manchester (2016)