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Inlaid white-metal bead, used as seax pommel or bead?

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posted on 2021-10-26, 19:39 authored by Helena HamerowHelena Hamerow
Composite silver and shell cloisonné bead(?), said to have been the pommel of a scramaseax. It is composed of an open cylinder of silver with rather stout silver cloisonné cell walls applied to the exterior, the depth increasing to the centre so that when filled up the whole would make a sphere. There are five transverse cell walls, sub-divided into rectangles by cross pieces, and there were originally a full complement of cross-cloisons at the two ends, now damaged, where the cylindrical base ends appear. The rectangular cells have been filled up with calcareous paste and then set with carefully cut pieces of shell (probably cowrie shell) cut on the curve and of wedge-shaped section in the cases where the section can be seen. One shell inset remains on one end of the thing, the remainder at the ends being missing. Also some missing settings in the inner rows, exposing the paste behind. Not clear how cloisons attached, but probably braised or soldered on.The curious thing is that though Faussett makes it pretty clear he thought this the pommel of a seax, i.e. 'the hole though with the strig of the sword was clenched 1/2 inch diam.', there is no trace of iron inside the hole though the middle. Inside the copper oxide stains are uninterrupted, and there is no trace of iron even on the exterior. So whether a pommel or not remains a question. Sword knot bead?cf. Similar examples: Chadington, Oxon. bead; Kempston BM similar


Grave ID

Kingston Down Grave 76

Object ID


Catalogue Number

M 6155


white metal, inlay (Sonia Hawkes Material Notes; silver, calcreous paste, cowrie shell) (Antiquarian Material; silver, shell, ivory)

Complete Keyword List (Including Alternatives)

sword bead, seax pommel (Sonia Hawkes Keyword; sword knot bead, scramaseax pommel) (Antiquarian Keyword; sword pommel, dagger pommel)




National Museums Liverpool


Mayer Collection

Original Collection


Category ID


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