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Unique ID: LEIC-E45DE0
Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published
Early Medieval (Anglo-Saxon) silver gilt sword pommel cap, 53mm long, 20mm high and 16mm wide, with a weight of 20.1g.
The pommel cap is pyramidal in form, a shape widely referred to as 'cocked hat' in academic literature. It has two broad faces (front and back) and two 'shoulders' which curve downwards from the peak to a straight terminal. Each terminal has two projecting rivet-tubes (4mm high and 5mm diameter), three empty and one with a silver dome-headed rivet in situ. The pommel cap is hollow and has a patch of iron concretion near the base on the inside of one broad face, perhaps from the iron tang of the sword blade. Patches of copper-alloy corrosion are also visible inside, possibly indicating that the pommel cap originally had a copper-alloy core. The peak of the pommel cap is missing in a roughly rectangular shape, perhaps from a lost setting or through damage.
The two broad faces of the pommel cap are decorated with different designs. One face has interlacing strands with a median incised line inlaid with niello. The other has a pair of addorsed interlacing creatures in Salin's Style II, the junction between them marked with an incised diagonal cross. The beasts' bodies are decorated with punched triangles and incised lines inlaid with niello. Each broad face has raised border decorated with two rows of opposed punched triangles inlaid with niello, greatly worn in several places.
The two shoulders of the pommel cap both decorated with the same design, consisting of an interlaced knot with a T-shaped scroll at each end, resembling a stylised human mask with long nose. These motifs also have incised median lines inlaid with niello.
Remains of gilding suggest that the object was originally gilded all over, although this now survives mainly in the recessed parts of the pommel cap, particularly between the rivet-tubes at each terminal. Patches of copper-alloy corrosion are visible on parts of the outer surface, perhaps from a copper-alloy core or contact with another object. The broad face with interlacing design has a deep vertical scratch towards the left hand side, from top to bottom. The object is noticeably worn.
Addenda - The object has now been conserved and traces of a green substance, similar to that found in 9 examples in the Staffordshire hoard has been identified. The pommel has been for analysis with the following conclusions.
The analysis suggests that it was indeed an inlay, with the top layers having a spectrum similar to corroded glass with silica, alumina, potash, lime and phosphorus represented, with some copper and
tin. In places it appears that the inlay had extended over an edge, which suggests that it was inlaid in a viscous state, suggesting some form of enamel, though further work is needed. This object provides a useful link to the processes involved in the construction of some of the Staffordshire hoard pommels and presents the possibililty that both were constructed using the same techniques, although there are some differences which will require further research.
The analysis also suggests the object was gilded first, including in the channels that also contained the green material, but not the niello channels. Traces of the green material were also found in channels to contain niello, confirming that the green material was added second and the niello was the last process.
Blakelock, E. 2019. Investigations of green material on an Anglo-Saxon silver pommel.
Images 3-7 show pommel post conservation. 8 and 9 show enamel and niello close up.
Scott, W. and Sharp, H. 2019. 'The Scalford Sword Pommel' pp.115-21 Transactions of The Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 93
The 'cocked hat' form of pommel developed in the sixth century and continued in use into the seventh, its form changing over time. The Scalford pommel cap is similar to Menghin's (1983) Typ Beckum-Vallstenarum (2e), with high rivet-tubes, smooth sides and usually rich decoration (Menghin 1983, pp. 315ff). A number of examples are decorated with interlacing strands, while the motif of addorsed beasts is similar to that on examples from the Staffordshire Hoard and Crundale in Kent (British Museum, 1894,1103.1.a).
Sixth to seventh centuries.
As the pommel cap is made of at least 10% silver and is over 300 years old, it constitutes potential Treasure under The Treasure Act 1996.
Menghin, W., 1983. Das Schwert im Frühen Mitterlalter. Stuttgart: Konrad Theiss
This is a find of note and has been designated: National importance
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure
Treasure case tracking number: 2016T288
Length: 53 mm
Height: 20 mm
Width: 16 mm
Weight: 26.1 g
Date(s) of discovery: Wednesday 6th April 2016
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Treasure case number: 2016T288
Museum accession number: X.A135.2017
No references cited so far.