Anglo-Saxon 'Horned Woden's Head' Applique 022885

Anglo-Saxon 'Horned Woden's Head' Applique 022885
Excessively Rare Anglo-Saxon 'Horned Woden's Head' Applique
Copper-alloy, 5.42 grams, 34.89 mm. Circa 6th-7th century AD. A cast copper-alloy applique in the form of a male head with horned headgear. The mount is designed with a piriform face; the eyes are lentoid, the nose covered by the nasal of the headgear, the beard triangular and the ends of the moustache extending beyond the cheeks. The hair is covered by a helmet or mask with hatched texture, extending around the upper face and developing two crescent extensions from the temples which meet above the crown of the head; the terminals are formed as birds' heads and show evidence of gilding. To the reverse, there are three integral attachment pegs. The headgear with bird-head terminals is restricted to the 6th-7th centuries in England although there are parallels from the material culture of both Anglian England and southern Scandinavia at this time. A pair of comparable bird-helmetted human faces can be found on the reconstructed frontal plates on the helmet found in Mound 1 at Sutton Hoo (Suffolk) depicting dancing warriors, and the male face shown on a foil fragment recovered from the barrow at Caenby (Lincolnshire). Similar also is the figure on one of the dies found at Torslunda (Öland, Sweden) showing a male wearing a helmet with a pair of bird-headed horns. A long, triangular male face is shown on the vandyke designs on the foil horn mounts from the barrow at Taplow (Berkshire). A male figure wearing a helmet with horns and bird-head terminals is the central design on a long triangular buckle found in grave 95 at Finglesham (Kent), and also from Finglesham (grave 138) is a mount in the form of a long, triangular human head with vertical radiating bands from the top of the head, and two crescentic horns emerging from the crown, terminating in opposed birds’ heads which meet above. A similar mount was found at Rempstone (Nottinghamshire) and privately published in Raynor (2010) another was found more recently at Attleborough (Norfolk). A mount depicting a similar figure, showing the upper body with hands gripping spears, was published in Hammond (2010). The significance of the headgear has not been fully explored but the coincidence of the birds and the head recall the later myths of Oðinn and his bird messengers, and suggests that these mythic characters were familiar in early Anglo-Saxon England. Reference: Hammond, B. British Artefacts - volume 1. Early Anglo-Saxon, Witham, 2010 item 1.4.5-r, Raynor, K. The Rempstone Mount: Anglo Saxon and Viking Horned Man Images & Artefacts, Nottingham, 2010 and cf. Pestell, T. Paganism in Early Anglo-Saxon East Anglia in Heslop, T.A., Mellings, E.A. and Thofner, M.Icon? Art and Belief in Norfolk from Prehistory to the Present, Woodbridge, in press (2012) figs. 6(a,b). Very fine condition, complete. Provenance: found at Melton, Leicestershire, and recorded with the PAS under reference LEIC-40DB05.
 
This item was accompanied by an illustrated Certificate of Authenticity.

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