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A RARE ANGLO-SAXON SWORD OF VIKING TYPE, THE HILT INLAID WITH TWO COLOURS OF GOLD

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A RARE ANGLO-SAXON SWORD OF VIKING TYPE, THE HILT INLAID WITH TWO COLOURS OF GOLD

10TH -11TH CENTURY

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A RARE ANGLO-SAXON SWORD OF VIKING TYPE, THE HILT INLAID WITH TWO COLOURS OF GOLD 10TH -11TH CENTURY In excavated condition, with broad tapering double-edged blade with evidence of pattern-welding, cut with a broad shallow fuller over the greater part of its length on both sides, and the outer face with the abbreviated Latin inscription '+SIGVNIS+' cut in characteristically bold letters perhaps intended for contrasting inlay, down-curved guard of rectangular section tapering to form pointed tips, both sides decorated with a lozenge pattern inlaid in yellow gold, and lobated pommel of two-part construction, the lower part encircled by lozenges of white gold; sold together with copies of relevant correspondance between the present owner and Barry Ager, Curator of The Department of Prehistory and Europe, The British Museum. 30¼in (76.5cm) blade (2)
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Lot Essay

The blade inscription is a slightly shorter version of 'SIGVINAIS', which has been interpreted as S(alvator) I(esu) G(enitrix) V(irgo). I(esus). N(omine) A(ltissimi) I(esu). S(alvator). See D. A. Drboglav Zagadki Latinskikh Kleim na Mechakh IX-XIV vekov, 1984, p.118.

This sword, the hilt decoration in particular, compares closely with the so-called 'River Witham' sword in the British Museum (1848,10-211), dating from the late 9th century and classified as Petersen type L variant. Further comparison identifies the present sword as an example of the 'Wallingford Bridge' type dating from the 10th -11th century, a further variant of the Petersen type L.

It is suggested that the hilt fittings were probably made in a Southern English, late Saxon, workshop.

See Ian Peirce, Swords of the Viking Age, Woodbridge 2002, pp.77-79.

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