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Home > Auctions > 24th November 2020 > 'The Bradwell' Anglo-Saxon Chess Piece

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LOT 0492

GBP (£) 6,000 - 8,000
EUR (€) 6,610 - 8,810
USD ($) 7,780 - 10,380

Bid History: 1   |   Current bid: £5,400

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Bid History: 1   |   Current bid: £5,400

'The Bradwell' Anglo-Saxon Chess Piece

6th-7th century AD

A bronze warrior figurine, an armed rider sitting astride his horse on a small rectangular base; the male warrior with centre-parted bobbed hair, large pellet eyes and moustache, pointed chin, arms held close to the sides with right hand gripping the reins and left hand and forearm covered by the circular shield with central boss, the legs with ankle-length trousers and pointed shoes to the feet, a scabbarded sword to the left hip with hilt and lobed pommel; the scabbard, reins and bridle depicted in three parallel bands. 28.04 grams, 41.59mm (1 3/4"). Fine condition, minor damage to left shoulder. An excessively rare museum-quality object.

Condition report [Click to show]

Property of a Norfolk gentleman; found by his son whilst searching with a metal detector near Bradwell, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, UK, on Monday 13 July 2015; accompanied by a copy of the Portable Antiquities Scheme report number NMS-40A7A7, and a detailed report by Anglo-Saxon specialist Stephen Pollington; this lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate number no.10216-166087.
Published on the Portable Antiquities Scheme with report number NMS-40A7A7.
The depiction of the mounted warrior is similar to on one of the decorative motifs on the Sutton Hoo helmet (Bruce-Mitford 1978, The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial, Vol.2, p.149, fig.110d), where the warrior rides stirrupless and carries a round shield and sword.
Stephen Pollington writes: 'The purpose of the piece must remain the object of speculation but one context suggests itself immediately. Many high-status male burials of the period (e.g. Sutton Hoo, Taplow, Prittlewell) include the remains of a board on which a table-top game (similar to chess) was played, and other burials likewise include gaming counters among the grave-goods. Later examples use miniature carved figures instead of counters - such as the famous 12th century set of character figures carved in ivory, discovered on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland. It seems possible that this figure was intended for a similar function... The figure is of great academic interest as a rare example of a 6th-7th century human form modelled in the round, and of a warrior horseman with his standard form of equipment (but lacking his helmet and spears).'