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Stunning gold Saxon Pommel sells for £16,000 at auction

A stunning gold Saxon sword pommel that was discovered in Billesdon, Leicestershire by an 81-year-old metal detectorist sold for a hammer price of £16,000.

The historic item was bought by a bidder over the internet, during a sale of Ancient Coins and Antiquities at Noonans Mayfair

Following the sale, last Thursday, June 20, Nigel Mills, Artefact and Coin expert at Noonans commented: “This was a stunning piece, and we are very pleased with the result. Further research has shown that the placename Billesdon means sword hill, so it’s very apt that the pommel, which we think would have belonged to an Anglo-Saxon chief who probably lost it in a battle with a Viking, was found there!” 

Leicester Time: Stunning gold Saxon Pommel sells for £16,000 at auction
Picture: Noonans

Prior to the sale, the finder, who wishes to remain anonymous, commented: “It was the 8th of July 2021 at a local detector meeting while searching a field, that everybody said had nothing in it, that I had a signal from my Minelab Deus 2. After digging to a depth of 7 inches, I discovered a gold Saxon sword pommel dating to the early 7th century AD decorated with a filigree pattern.”

The pommel was declared as treasure and has now been disclaimed after the Leicester Museum declined to purchase it.

As Mr Mills explained: “The sword pommel is a beautiful example of fine Anglo-Saxon gold measuring 4 centimetres by 1.5 centimetres and weighing 20.5 grams. It is of cocked hat form using beaded wire filigree ornamentation. On one side are two dragons or beasts facing each other with their heads and front paws touching. The other side has an interlaced snakelike pattern. It compares with the detectorist-found Staffordshire hoard of gold jewellery, while the motif of the confronting beasts on the sword mounts can be seen on a shield from the Sutton Hoo ship burial. The pommel would have been fixed to the end of the sword handle both as a counterbalance and to stop the hand slipping. The imagery displayed would have imbued a mystical power to the sword.”

Over the 60 years, that she has been detecting, the finder has found many Medieval and Roman coins. When she started detecting in the 1960s people asked her what she was doing, and she told them she was looking for bombs. She will be sharing the proceeds from the sale with the landowner and will be using her half to buy a replacement vehicle.