Lot 995: Pre-Viking Pictish Horse and Rider Roundel
December 7, 2016
Harwich, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: 5th-8th century AD. A discoid copper-alloy roundel or patrix die with figure of a mounted warrior on a pony, with arm extended to grasp the reins, ribbed cap or headdress, round shield slung on the horse's rump. Cf. Powell, T.G. The Celts, London, 1963 fig.33. 135 grams, 49mm (2"). Property of a Yorkshire, UK, collector; acquired in the 1990s; thence by descent. Accompanied by a positive X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate. The use of patrix dies to emboss a design onto sheet silver is known from Iron Age Scandinavia, England and Germany in the creation of the richly-adorned helmets, scabbards and drinking horns found at Vendel, Valsgärde, Gutenstein, Sutton Hoo, Taplow and elsewhere. The present die appears to belong within that tradition but represents a horseman with either a simple cap or perhaps carefully dressed hair in the tradition of the procession of warriors seen on the Gundestrup cauldron. The Picts were a confederacy of tribes living in East and Northern Scotland from the late Iron Age through to the early Medieval period. They were mentioned in Roman literary sources, such as the geographer Ptolemy, and often proved to be a violent threat along the border of the Empire at Hadrians Wall. Their recorded history begins in the Dark Ages when they were largely subdued by the Anglo-Saxons in the sixth and seventh centuries and large parts of Northumbria were taken from them. It is probably through close trading links that the Picts acquired some of the Germanic elements of their art.
Condition Report: Fine condition. Extremely rare.