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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


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  • Description

    Gilt copper alloy plaque from lyre, depicting a bird's head. Square, with bird's beak projecting from one side and curving over. The corners of the square are inlaid with simple garnet cells. The central boss has a circular inlaid garnet surrounded by green glass and white paste, and having gold beaded edging. The circle round this is filled with zoomorphic interlace. The bird's head is detached from the square plaque. The bird's beak is a simple curl, and the eye is a fitting for a single garnet, now lost. Some of the gilt is damaged. Beneath the central boss is a rivet to join the plaque to the lyre. This plaque faces towards the left on the reconstructed lyre.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 7thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Bibliography

    • Bruce-Mitford 1978 Figs.236-237 bibliographic details
    • Speake 1980 pl 4b&d bibliographic details
  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    15 August 2002

    Reason for treatment

    Permanent Exhibition

    Treatment proposal

    Light clean to remove dirt and/or tarnish.


    The fitting is in good condition overall. There are four garnets missing including the eye garnet. There is a corner of the object missing. There is dirt and dust on the surface of the object.

    Treatment details

    The dirt and dust was removed form the object using cotton swabs of Acetone (propan-1-one/dimethyl ketone).

    About these records 

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Excavated 1939

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number


Maple wood fragment from lyre, rectangular.

Maple wood fragment from lyre, rectangular.

Image description



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Object reference number: MCS11910

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