Lady Layard's jewellery

Lady Layard's jewellery. Mesopotamian. Various dates between about 2200 and 350 BC. This necklace, bracelet and two earrings belonged to Lady Enid Layard, the wife of one of the first excavators of ancient Assyria, Henry Layard. Image and all text reproduced courtesy of the British Museum.

“Between 1845 and 1851, Layard excavated the remains of the ancient Assyrian capitals of Nimrud and Nineveh and revealed the reliefs that decorated the royal palaces. These and other objects recovered from Mesopotamia astonished Europe and Layard's account of his discoveries became a best-seller. In 1851 he retired from excavation to take up a life in politics. In March 1869, at the age of fifty-two, he married Enid, the daughter of his cousin. As a wedding present, Layard had a number of seals which he had acquired during his travels made up into jewellery in Victorian gold settings.

“Enid later wrote in her diary that, when they dined with Queen Victoria in 1873, it was 'much admired'.

“One cylinder seal is Akkadian (about 2200 BC) and four belong to the second millennium BC, but eight are late Assyrian (about 1000-612 BC). Late Babylonian and Achaemenid stamp seals (about 600-350 BC) are used for the pendants and clasp.”


J. Rudoe, 'Lady Layard's jewellery and the 'Assyrian Style' in nineteenth-century jewellery design' in Austen Henry Layard tra LOrien . Rome, 1987. pp. 213-26.

J.E. Curtis and J.E. Reade (eds), Art and empire: treasures from the British Museum. London: The British Museum Press, 1995.

R.D. Barnett, 'Lady Layard's jewelry' in Archaeology in the Levant. Warminster: 1978. pp. 172-79

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Created 27 February 2015