Silver knife mount with runic inscription


British Museum

British Museum

This fragment of a gilded silver fitting was discovered in the River Thames near Westminster Bridge. The fierce animal head with its great fangs appears to have marked the point where two strips joined to make a V-shaped mount.

It is most likely that this was part of the binding of a scabbard for a knife or seax. The fancy rivets in threes along its length would have held it to the leather or wood of the scabbard. When worn it would have been seen from one side only. This explains why the fitting has been decorated on one side.

The main decoration is a prominent runic inscription twenty-one letters long. Although the clearly cut runes have no obvious meaning, they could have acted as a magical charm to protect or bring good luck to the owner of this valuable weapon set.

The three-dimensional animal head resembles a wolf and is well suited to a weapon case. It has a long tongue which passed between its fangs and ends at the throat to make a loop. The beast has blue glass eyes which add to its fearful appearance.

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  • Title: Silver knife mount with runic inscription
  • Date Created: 750/799
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 18.800 cm
  • External Link: Explore this item on the British Museum's website
  • Registration number: 1869,0610.1
  • Copyright: © The Trustees of the British Museum