Four Knife Sheath Chapes

Friendly correspondent Peter Woods is working with chapes or ferrules, that is, metal mounts from the ends of knife sheaths or sword scabbards. He has sent me lovely images of these things in the hope that Aard’s readers might be able to suggest parallels. Neither of the finds has any solid provenance, and though I believe them to be from north-west Europe and date from the 11th/12th centuries, I’ve never seen anything quite like them in my work with Scandinavian small finds. Being fragile yet excellently preserved, they’re almost certainly grave finds, not metal detector finds from plough soil. Note how the first three depict a quadruped animal looking back over its shoulder.

So, Dear Reader, where in the world and where in history do these intriguing things belong?

Update 24 June: Here’s the available provenance info, such as it is. A&B: a Dutch antique dealer says that the family of a long dead collector says that he had been told that they came from southern Sweden. 32 is from east Kent in south-east England. 12 is from north-east England where a small number of similar ones have been found.


Chape A
i-3822b9c3d478d038d05ce0ac71df1312-CHAPE A.jpg


Chape B
i-fdd6fc4c445864faab2618500ded9a47-CHAPE B.jpg
i-7de5baeb280124f600ebbd2f50390147-CHAPE B DRAWING w500.jpg


Chape 32
i-a059ecb8345005f3589cfdfcc56e42fc-CHAPE 32.jpg
i-dafa94cc0708b89a94de2ef519fb3a56-CHAPE 32 DRAWING 100.jpg


Chape 12
i-432006b29927fe32726ece51543df9d6-CHAPE 12.jpg
i-125cca40e03e3bce0fc17f6d2f128491-CHAPE 12 DRAWING_edited-1.jpg

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7 thoughts on “Four Knife Sheath Chapes

  1. Isn’t there really any kind of information where they could be from? The last one, Chape 12, reminds me stylistically of Permian mountings from the Urals, perhaps 5th to 7th centuries, but as far as I know, there aren’t any real parallels existing there either. So probably this is only a vivid fantasy of mine…

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  2. Regarding A and B, a Dutch antique dealer says that the family of a long dead collector says that he had been told that they came from southern Sweden. Not great data.

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  3. The creature’s eyes portrayed as parallel lines on a and b, a particularly, remind me of dalahestene, I always thought their eyes looked funny!

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  4. There is something similar from Finland, Masku Humikkala grave 47. Leena Tomantera has written of that and similar knife sheath embellishments. Article is in finnish in a book published in Estonia- Soumen leijonatupet. Etnos ja kultuur. Uurimusi Silvia Laulu auks. Muinasaja teadus 18, Tartu-Tallinn 2006. She seems to find the origin of these in Germany (if I understood correctly).

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  5. You may find a lovely example of one in “Uppgrävt förflutet för PKBanken i Lund” red. Anders W. MÃ¥rtensson, Kulturhistoriska Museet i Lund 1976. It was found in what was named the “Urnes workshop” in a layer dated to 1100-1150.

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