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Auction 298  20 Jun 2024
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Lot 276

Estimate: 15 000 GBP
Price realized: 16 000 GBP
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Antiquities

The Spectacular Billesdon Anglo-Saxon gold sword pommel


Anglo-Saxon, early 7th century, a gold sword pommel cap, measuring 4 cm x 1.5 cm x 1.8 cm, 20.42g, cocked hat form with beaded wire filigree ornamentation. On one side panel are two dragons or beasts facing each other with their heads and front paws both touching. The neck and body are curved with five lines of beaded wire, the back and front legs are of three lines, each with four toes. The mouth is long with a raised snout and the eyes are triangular and upright. The opposite side panel is composed of three strands beaded wire interlaced in a zoomorphic or snakelike pattern in Salin's style II. The heads and tails are looped at the top. On the surviving end are twelve bands of curving beaded wire alternating in a herringbone pattern, above are two holes for attachment to the hilt. The apex is plain but the shoulders are decorated with beaded wire strands, again in a herringbone pattern. The underside contains the remains of an internal copper casing. Some wear to the high parts and one end has broken away, otherwise about very fine £15,000-£18,000

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Provenance: Found while metal detecting at Billesdon (Leicestershire), 2021 and disclaimed as treasure [2021 T481].

W. Menghin 1983 described these pommels as type Beckum-Vallstenarum dating them to circa AD 600. They have been found in Germany and France and in the UK, with the recent Staffordshire hoard being the largest number. The confronting beasts are found as a motif on the rim of a shield from the Sutton Hoo ship burial.
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