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Home > Auctions > 1st September 2020 > Saxon Silver Sword Pommel Assembly

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LOT 0389

Estimate
GBP (£) 4,000 - 6,000
EUR (€) 4,430 - 6,640
USD ($) 5,220 - 7,840

Opening Bid
£3,600 (EUR 3,986; USD 4,701) (+bp*)

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Bid History: 0

Saxon Silver Sword Pommel Assembly

6th century AD

A sword pommel, upper guard and associated portion of the iron tang; the pommel of cocked-hat type in sheet silver with a panel of niello-enhanced Style II knotwork to each broad face and a looser knot to each lateral face; the upper guard formed as two silver lentoid plates, the lower one slightly dished, joined to the upper with six vertical bronze pins; below the lower plate, a ring of beaded wire, elliptical in plan enclosing the grip of the hilt. 41.5 grams, 61mm (2 1/2"). Fine condition.

Provenance
From an old Suffolk collection; formed 1990-2000.
Literature
Cf. Carver, M. Sutton Hoo. A Seventh Century Princely Burial Ground and its Context, London, 2005; Pollington, S., Kerr, L. & Hammond, B. Wayland's Work: Anglo-Saxon Art, Myth & Material Culture from the 4th to 7th century, Ely, 2010, p.271-3; Mortimer, P. Woden's Warriors, Ely, 2011; Brunning, S. The Sword in Early Medieval Northern Europe: Experience, Identity, Representation, Woodbridge, 2019; Menghin, W. Das Schwert im Frühen Mittelalter, Stuttgart, 1983; Fern, C. Dickinson, T. & Webster, L. The Staffordshire Hoard: an Anglo-Saxon Treasure, London, 2019.
Footnotes
The item includes the entire metal assemblage from the upper end of a Saxon sword from the early period (Pollington et al. 2010; Mortimer, 2011). The organic guard which sat between the two lentoid plates was probably of horn or bone and highly decorated, but it has not survived. The designs on the two faces of the pommel are not identical: this is the case with all examples of pommels from the 6th-7th century. The knotted bands creating the Style II design find close parallels in the Staffordshire Hoard (Fern et al, 2019), and on the great gold buckle from Sutton Hoo Mound 1. The elliptical shape of the beaded wire ring indicates the shape in plan of the organic grip. The profile of the pommel is similar to item 31 in the Staffordshire Hoard catalogue (Fern et al, 2019), although on that example the interlace is in gold filigree, looser in execution and spread out; item 53 in the same group is likewise similar in profile, but bears garnet cloisonné ornament. Items 64-67 are likewise silver and closer in their general profile to the present piece, but lack the Style II ornament.