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Home > Auctions > 2nd June 2020 > Viking Silver Brooch with Faces and Beasts

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LOT 0552

GBP (£) 8,000 - 10,000
EUR (€) 8,990 - 11,230
USD ($) 10,080 - 12,600

£7,200 (EUR 8,087; USD 9,071) (+bp*)

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Viking Silver Brooch with Faces and Beasts

Late 9th-10th century AD

A provincial Scandinavian flat-section discoid silver plaque with incised niello-filled ornament and five domed rivets to the obverse, of which three secure a rectangular plate to the reverse with spiral catch finial; incised niello-filled cruciform design of voided lentoid arms on a hatched field with four interstitial facing masks; two unadorned, one with collar-length hair, beard and moustache, the fourth with fringe or tonsured hairstyle; above each mask a profile beast comprising a coiled serpent, a hound with tail between its legs, a crouching beast with head reversed and spiral hip, and another with lappet and protruding tongue; arcade to the outer edge with notched detailing. 85 grams total with box, 60mm (2 1/4"). Fine condition; usage wear. Very rare.

Property of an English gentleman; from the estate of a Scottish collector; acquired from continental Europe in the late 1970s; gifted to his daughter in the early 1980s; thence by descent 2004.
Cf. Backhouse, J., Turner, D.H. and Webster, L., The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art: 966-1066, London, 1984, item 105, for the Sutton, Isle of Ely brooch and the Anglo-Saxon disc brooch in Statens Historiska Museum, Stockholm, item 17.
The ornament is influenced from contemporary Ringerike style of 10th century Scandinavian art, visible in the scrolled hips and other details of the zoomorphs. The brooch is closely similar in many respects to the example from Sutton, Isle of Ely, especially the zigzag border, intersecting ring-based layout, pairs of serpents and quadrupeds. The brooch shows signs of heavy usage wear prior to deposition including the loss of one boss. The plaque to the reverse is partial and shows fractures to each end, and incorporated the pin and catchplate; the Sutton brooch has a corresponding riveted panel with a short runic text, with an extensive Old English owner formula to the reverse.