Rupert Wace Ancient Art



  - Byzantine silver marriage ring

Byzantine silver marriage ring

6th - 7th century AD

Private collection Germany, acquired 1950s; Private collection (M. G.) Southern Germany, acquired 2000

For a similar example in gold, see a ring at Dumbarton Oaks, inv. no. 59.60. The couple here face front with a cross between and an inscription reading 'Grace of God' above and 'Harmony' below. Another ring also at Dumbarton Oaks (inv. no. 55.14.269) shows two profile busts much like the present example.

The thick circular hoop with flat circular bezel engraved with a pair of confronting busts within a dotted border, two crosses between, all inlaid with niello. To the left, a bearded and draped male in right profile shown wearing a diadem, to the right, a draped woman in left profile wearing a diadem and beaded necklace, the facial features completed with a series of dots and dashes, the hair and drapery incised.

Ring size: S

  - Iberian bronze finial of a warrior on horseback

Iberian bronze finial of a warrior on horseback

6th century BC

UK collection, acquired late 1970s-80s

Cruder versions of horsemen are included in Lourdes Prados Torreira, 'Exvotos Ibericos de Bronce del Museo Arqueologico Nacional' (Madrid, 1992), p.334-5, the horse of figure no. 427 being of very similar form. Two further examples of votive horsemen, including one wearing a crested helmet, can be found in 'Master Bronzes from the Classical World', Exhibition catalogue at the Fogg Art Museum, USA, 1968, no.115, A and B.

The rider, with stylised facial features wears a crested Corinthian helmet, he holds the reins of his horse in his left hand and a long sheathed sword in his right, his legs are thrust back to touch the hind legs of his mount. The stylised horse has a long narrow muzzle, with a crested decoration spanning the forelock. The front legs are conjoined, the hind legs with long arched tail between them, both front and hind legs rest in the curve of a ‘V’-shape with pierced, looped tendrils at each end, the base of each attached to the disc top of the hollow finial.

This group may have decorated a piece of furniture or household item. An Etruscan candelabrum in the collection of the Saint Louis Art Museum shows how such a finial might have been placed (cf. Arielle Kozloff et al, 'The Gods Delight, The Human Figure in Classical Bronze' Exhibition catalogue, Cleveland, 1988, p.182). The form reveals the influence of Greek trade along the Spanish Mediterranean coast.

Height: 10.2 cm

  - French Medieval head of the Virgin Mary

French Medieval head of the Virgin Mary

14th century

Private collection, France, removed during restoration from a church in the Auvergne in the 19th century.

The sombre expression, narrowed eyes, and upright, forward facing gaze find parallels in a French polychrome limestone Virgin and Child now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (acc. no. 17.120.1) and a painted alabaster in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in Barcelona of comparable date.

A cast ogival-shaped dagger with three ribs defined by four grooves. The butt is rounded with two plug rivets and lateral notches for two more. The surface with attractive black river patination.

Length: 23.5 cm

  - Prehistoric flint hammer stone

Prehistoric flint hammer stone

3500 - 800 BC

Collection of Professor Sir Lucas White King (1856-1925), Dublin and London; Richardson Collection, UK
Bearing original collection label stating: 'Neolithic Hammer or Quern Stone. Ex County Down Ireland, from Prof Sir Lucas White King's Collection'

A similar example was found in Norfolk and recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

A regularly shaped spherical hammerstone, the surface covered with fine percussion scars.

Diameter: 7 cm

  - European Early Bronze Age dagger

European Early Bronze Age dagger

1700-1600 BC

Boissonnas collection, Switzerland (inventory no. 69); Sold at Fischer Auctions, Lucerne, 11-13 September 2008, lot 320; Private collection (R.B.) UK (acquired at Fischer auction).
At the time of the Fischer auction the dagger had a bronze tag (subsequently lost) bearing Boissonnas collection inventory number.

For a similar example from Bohemia see Vere Gordon Childe, 'The Bronze Age', Cambridge University Press, 1930, fig.45. Also 3 Italian examples in Oscar Montelius, 'Die älteren Kulturerioden im Orient und Europa I. Die Methode', Stockholm, 1903.

Length: 23.8 cm

A tangless dagger with triangular blade, semicircular shoulder and solid lenticular hilt terminating in a pommel of truncated conical form with a central boss. The lower part of the handle composed of a down-curved arch featuring seven pseudo rivet heads enveloping the butt of the blade on both sides, the semicircular space left on the butt decorated with parallel lines. The blade with midrib and decorated with engraved geometric designs.

Possibly French, this fine dagger rests well in the hand. Such quality is associated with the appearance in Phase 2 of the Early Bronze Age of a new elite for whom a weapon of this nature would be a status symbol.

  - Iberian bronze statuette of a warrior

Iberian bronze statuette of a warrior

6th century BC

UK collection, acquired 1970s to 1990s


Height: 10 cm

The figure stands with his feet together, wearing a pleated kilt ending above his knees. At his waist he holds a sword in his right hand and from his left hand projects a small circular shield with central boss. Large eyes and a wide mouth animate his rounded triangular face which is crowned with a smooth cap-like coiffure.

  - Anglo-Saxon gold and bronze disc brooch

Anglo-Saxon gold and bronze disc brooch

7th century AD

UK collection, acquired 1991


Diameter: 3.5 cm

An applied disc brooch with flat bronze back plate with circular band of bronze fastened on the edge to form a rim, a disc of thin gold sheet with repoussé decoration applied to the front. The decoration in the form of regular interlaced pattern interspersed with dots. Remains of the iron pin corroded in situ on the back. The gap between the two elements would probably have been packed with a perishable material now lost.

This type of applied disc brooch more regularly date to the 5th or 6th century AD, the regular nature of the interlacing on this example may suggest a slightly later date in the early 7th century. It is rare for these brooches to survive intact as the elements are easily separated.

  - Nordic stone battle axe

Nordic stone battle axe

Neolithic. c. 4th millennium BC

Reputedly from the collection of Dr George Wyckoff Cummings (1865-1942), Hackettstown, New Jersey; Private collection, USA acquired circa 1980

For a similar example see 'Antiquities from Europe and the Near East in the Collection of the Lord McAlpine of West Green' (Oxford, 1987), p. 74, no.4.173. Other examples in the collection of the Danish National Museum are illustrated in the museum's guide, 'Prehistoric Denmark', 1970, p.14-15.

Length: 15 cm

A boat-form battle axe carved from an attractive mottled hard stone. Lozenge-shaped outline with convex sides, with large curved 'Nackenkamm' butt, the cutting edge angled possibly through wear.

  - Small silver gilt fibula of an eagle

Small silver gilt fibula of an eagle

Merovingian, 6th century AD

Private collection Germany, acquired 1980s

For a very similar example though with no surviving gilding see Richard Hattatt, 'Brooches of Antiquity' (Oxford, 1987) pp. 324-3, no. 1320, also illustrated in Richard Hattatt 'Ancient Brooches and other Artefacts' (Oxford, 1989) p.381.

The flat brooch depicts the bird in side view. A large circular eye above a sharply hooked beak. Gilding remains on the wing, neck and beak of the eagle, with traces also visible in the detailing of the tail feathers. The stylised feathers carved on the ridge of the back inlaid with niello.
The pin is now missing but the hinge and catch- plate survive.

Length: 3.1 cm

  - North European tinned bronze fibula of a cicada

North European tinned bronze fibula of a cicada

Ostrogothic, 6th century AD

UK collection.

Examples of cicada brooches can be seen in Debra Noel Adams, Emma C. Bunker, Trudy Kawami, Robert Morkot, Dalia Tawil, 'When Orpheus Sang' (Paris, 2004) pp. 246-247, nos. 267-268

The narrow triangular body, flanked by a pair of sharply pointed wings, terminates in a rectangular head marked with a series of diagonal grooves representing the eyes; two parallel lines delineate the thorax. The pin now missing, but part of the spring and catch still remaining.

Length: 7.6 cm