Length: 18.800 cm
Gift of Thomas D E Gunston
Room 41: Europe AD 300-1100
Silver knife mount with runic inscription
Anglo-Saxon, late 8th century
Found in London, England
Biting head for a sharp weapon
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
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.
D.M. Wilson, Anglo-Saxon art (London, Thames and Hudson, 1984)
R.I. Page, An introduction to English run, 2nd ed. (Woodbridge, Boydell, 1999)
L. Webster and J. Backhouse, The making of England: Anglo-S, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)