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We owe our knowledge of the Merovingians chiefly to finds from burial fields. This gallery holds and exhibits innumerable archaeological finds of this sort. The Merovingian dead were dressed in their finest apparel and buried with a number of their personal effects, generally weapons in the case of men and jewellery in the case of women. Sometimes, tools, earthenware and various miscellaneous items were placed in the graves with them. A range of these funerary gifts is displayed here. Eight graves (partial reconstructions of the burial field of Harmignies, Hainaut) indicate clearly how of such graves when they were uncovered; in most instances, the body, clothes and wooden coffin had mouldered away, but metal objects, glass and bone were still in evidence.
We are also left to wonder at Merovingian craftsmanship. Beautiful rings, ear-rings, brooches, belt fittings and decorative elements in finely wrought ironwork bear witness to the sophistication of Germanic art.
If words like ‘scramasax’, ‘francisc’, ‘spatha’, ‘umbo’ and ‘angon’ are incomprehensible to you, the showcases providing a survey of the various types of Merovingian weapons and their evolution can offer some light.
Moving on, the visitor will find a variety of tools, earthenware pots, and textiles. Coins are displayed in a specially designed showcase with moveable magnifying-glasses, allowing every detail to be examined. A beautifully worked, portable reliquary and a silver spoon are indications of the Christian faith of the Merovingians.