Museum Object

24. Frank’s Casket


Sutton Hoo

Room / Case / #

41 / 2 /

Stories from the world

Stories from the World: Merchants, adventurers, warriors and especially leaned religious leaders, as well as carrying out their business along the ancient trade routes also brought back stories and this casket, believed to have been made in the early 8th C., captures a few of them. Made of whale bone, the left half of the front of this chest shows a composite scene from the old Norse Weland the Smith legend, the right half, the Adoration of the Magi,  shows the Magi wearing Persian dress.  The left-hand end depicts Romulus and Remus nurtured by the wolf, a scene that also appears in an 8th C Sogdian cave in Tajikistan. The back panel shows the capture of Jerusalem in AD 70 by the Romans. The lid depicts an episode relating to the Germanic hero Egil who like William Tell has to shoot an arrow into an apple on his son’s head. The language of some of the inscriptions shows that the carver used a Northumbrian or North Mercian dialect current in the early eighth century. Thus the carver was from Northumbria but that may not be where the box was carved. It was found in the Auvergne in France and little is known of its provenance prior to being acquired by the museum in 1867. It is about 23 x 19 x 11 cms in dimensions. There is a lengthy article on Wikipedia together with some high resolution photographs and a couple of videos on youtube.