Silver-gilt sword pommel


British Museum

British Museum

This spectacular pommel was found in 1861, together with a triangular buckle decorated with a fish and a gilt bronze buckle inlaid with garnets. It belonged to an iron sword, also preserved in The British Museum. Pommels of this form are called 'cocked hat' after their distinctive shape, which developed in the late sixth century. Many examples have been found in eastern Sweden and Finland, but the type was also used across Scandinavia, in southern Germany and northern Italy, as well as in Anglo-Saxon England.

The pommel is decorated with two interlaced Style II animals on the front side. The two animals cross one another at the neck, with their long U-shaped jaws biting the body and rear leg of their mate. The long front legs are intertwined beyond the hip joints and extend across the necks to link above the creatures' heads.

Certain details of the animals are comparable to the animal ornament found on the Book of Durrow (Dublin, Trinity College, MS A.4.5 (57)). Together with parallels between garnet cloisonné patterns and manuscript illustrations, this establishes a clear link between metalwork and manuscript decoration in the seventh century.

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  • Title: Silver-gilt sword pommel
  • Date Created: 650/699
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 81.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: pattern-welded
  • Registration number: 1894,1103.1
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Crundale. Excavated/Findspot Crundale Downs
  • Period/culture: Early Anglo-Saxon
  • Material: iron
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Wyatt, F W