- Museum number
Fragment of a throne, possibly a leg, made from a whole walrus tusk hollowed out at the larger end and mounted in bronze-gilt, the hinged lid, locked with a pin, is set with a hog-back crystal. The other end is also mounted and set with a crystal, another being fixed in the centre. The mounts may have been added to convert the piece into a reliquary. The tusk shows green stains which indicates an earlier need to wrap copper round the piece to strengthen its ends, both having split probably before the mounts were added.
- Production date
Height: 447 millimetres
Width: 65 millimetres (mount - largest end)
Depth: 45 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from Zarnecki et al 1984, cat. no. 211; see bibliography.
'This fragment consists of a whole walrus tusk hollowed out at the larger end and mounted in bronze-gilt in the 14th century; the hinged lid, locked with a pin, is set with a hog-back crystal. The other end is also mounted and set with a crystal, another being fixed in the centre. The mounts may have been added to convert the piece into a reliquary. The tusk shows green stains, some 20 mm wide, at each end - the signs of an earlier need to wrap copper round the piece to strengthen its ends, both having split probably before the 14th-century mounts were added.
The tusk has chamfered corners and is richly decorated with inhabited scrolls on all four sides. The ornamental vocabulary can best be compared to the Lewis Chessmen and other pieces found in Scandinavia, and a date towards the middle of the century is most likely. It is difficult to be sure what its use was before the mounts were added, but size and shape make it very possible that it served as the leg of an ivory chair or throne. The split in the material suggests the reason why it may have been put to a new and less demanding use in the 14th century. Later medieval chairs of carved wood are evidence of a tradition of highly decorated furniture in Scandinavia.'
Lasko, 1960-1, pp.12-16
Lasko, 1972a, pp. 236-7
Gaborit-Chopin, 1978, no. 164
E. Roesdahl, Viking Age Denmark, 1982, p. 117, fig. 29
- On display (G40/dc10/sE)
- Exhibition history
2011 23 June-9 Oct, London, BM, 'Treasures of Heaven'
2011 29 Jan-27 Mar, Shetland Museum & Archives
2010 7 Oct-8 Jan, Aberdeen Art Gallery
2010 21 May-19 Sep, Edinburgh, National Museum of Scotland
1997 4 May-28 Sep, Norway, Trondheim, Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum - National Museum of Decorative Arts, Trondheim 100
1995 6 Aug-12 Nov, Germany, Brunswick, Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Heinrich der Löwe und seine Zeit: Herrschaft und Repräsentation der Welfen 1125-1235
1992 26 Dec-1993 14 Mar, Denmark, Copenhagen, Nationalmuseet, Vikings and Christians
1992 1 Sep-15 Nov, Germany, Berlin, Altes Museum, Wikinger, Waräger, Normannen. Die Skandinavier und Europa 800-1200
1992 1 Apr-20 Jul, France, Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Les Vikings... Les Scandinaves et l’Europe 800-1200
1984 5 Apr-8 Jul, London, Hayward Gallery, English Romanesque Art 1066-1200 cat. no. 221, ill. p. 227
1977 London, BM, Animals in Art
- Green staining suggests wrapped in copper filets at some stage.
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number