Knife Handle thumbnail 1
Knife Handle thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery

Knife Handle

10th century to 11th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This handle of a knife or dagger was made in Anglo-Saxon England, probably in the 10th to the 11th century. It is carved in bone and decorated with pierced scrolls and animals.

Inhabited scrolls of the type seen on the handle have a long history in Anglo-Saxon Northern England. Ultimately deriving from Late Antique prototypes, they are seen in similar form in stone crosses from the late 7th century onwards and remained in fashion until the end of the 11th century. Because of the continuity of this decorative fashion it is difficult to date the handle with precision.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Carved bone with a fragment of iron
Brief Description
Handle for a knife or dagger, bone, decorated with pierced scrolls and animals, Anglo-Saxon, probably 10th to 11th century
Physical Description
Bone handle for a knife or dagger, decorated with pierced scrolls and animals with the vestigial remains of the blade at one end. The animals are from bottom upwards: a quadruped, a bird, and another quadruped turning its head to eat fruit. The carved field is bordered by two strips of elongated bead-and-reel ornament. The other side is plain except for a 1cm section of interlaced basket-work carving at the bottom.
Dimensions
  • Including remains of blade length: 10cm
  • At base width: 3cm
Style
Credit line
Given by Mr Harold Bompas
Object history
Given by Mr Harold B. Bompas, London.



Historical significance: Inhabited scrolls of the type seen on the handle have a long history in Anglo-Saxon Northern England. Ultimately deriving from Late Antique prototypes, they are seen in similar form in stone crosses from the late 7th century onwards and remained in fashion until the end of the 11th century. Because of the continuity of this decorative fashion it is difficult to date the handle with precision.
Historical context
Vine scrolls enclosing animals eating grapes are characteristic of 7th to 9th century, North English works, and they appear again in the 11th century. The vine in the debased form shown on this handle may well belong to the latter part of the period.
Production
probably 10th to 11th century
Subjects depicted
Summary
This handle of a knife or dagger was made in Anglo-Saxon England, probably in the 10th to the 11th century. It is carved in bone and decorated with pierced scrolls and animals.



Inhabited scrolls of the type seen on the handle have a long history in Anglo-Saxon Northern England. Ultimately deriving from Late Antique prototypes, they are seen in similar form in stone crosses from the late 7th century onwards and remained in fashion until the end of the 11th century. Because of the continuity of this decorative fashion it is difficult to date the handle with precision.
Bibliographic References
  • Beckwith, J. Ivory carving in Early Medieval England. London, 1972. no. 53. fig. 104.
  • Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1929. Part II. p. 131.
  • Williamson, Paul. Medieval Ivory Carvings. Early Christian to Romanesque. London, V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2010, pp. 256, 7, cat.no. 66
  • Exhibition of English Mediaeval Art, 1930., London : V&A, Published by authority of the Board of Education, 193099
Collection
Accession Number
A.101-1927

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record createdNovember 18, 2004
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