Home > Auctions > 9th September 2015 > Viking 'The Great Beast' Weather Vane Finial

Next Lot

Previous Lot  

Print page | Email lot to a friend

Back to previous page


Viking 'The Great Beast' Weather Vane Finial

Antiquities - Viking


LOT 1155

Estimate
GBP (£) 12,000 - 17,000
EUR (€) 13,520 - 19,160
USD ($) 16,880 - 23,920
Additional Fees*

Sold for (Inc. premium): £14,880

VIKING 'THE GREAT BEAST' WEATHER VANE FINIAL
11th century AD

A gilt-bronze half of a Ringerike style "Great Beast" finial for a Viking longship's weathervane formed as a standing quadruped with scrolls to the hips and shoulders, slashes to the flanks, raised head with piriform eye and curled lappet to the upper lip; attachment holes to the lower legs and pierced rectangular panel to the top of the head to accept a separately-cast comb. 67 grams, 67mm (2 1/2").

Condition
Very fine condition. Extremely rare.

Provenance
Property of a German collector; acquired in the 1990s. Supplied with a positive X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate.

Published
Accompanied by an Art Loss Register certificate.

Literature
For ship-vanes of Ringerike style see Graham-Campbell, J. Viking Art, London, 2013, items 138-140; for a discussion of Viking-period weather vanes and their re-use as badges of nobility in Normandy, see Engström, J. & Nykänen, P. New Interpretations of Viking Age Weathervanes, in Fornvännen, vol.91, 1996; Lindgrén, S. Viking Weather-Vane Practices in Medieval France in Fornvännen, vol.91, 1996 and Lindgrén, S. Viking Weather-Vane Practices in Medieval France in Fornvännen, vol.78, 1983.

Footnotes
The navigation techniques in use in Iron Age Northern Europe were very sophisticated, as would be expected from people bordering the Baltic, North Sea and North Atlantic where boat- and ship-building traditions have been perfected over more than a thousand years.
A carved wooden panel from Bergen, Norway, shows a number of Viking longships at sea, some with weathervanes mounted on the stempost. They are mounted vertically with the beast on the outer end.
Gilded bronze weathervanes appear on the roofs of medieval churches in Sweden, Norway and Finland where they are often regarded as ornamental: symbols of access to resources and craftsmanship for the important families who endowed such buildings. These weathervanes in many cases originally adorned ships and were used as part of the navigational equipment. They may have inspired the medieval Norman custom of attaching a gilded weathervane or cock to church roofs, which eventually spread to secular buildings such as castles in France and Italy where their use was restricted to certain ranks of nobility (Lindgrén, 1983).
Weathervanes were used for determining the strength and direction of the wind, in conjunction with the sólarsteinn (sunstone) Icelandic feldspar which polarises sunlight and allows the sun's position to be determined in overcast conditions. A wooden bearing-dial fragment was found in Greenland - a destination colonised by Icelanders in the 11th century - with the 'horizon' divided into 32 sectors. This would give an accuracy of about 11 degrees per sector, which would make landfall using latitude sailing a straightforward matter. Engström & Nykänen (1996) suggested that the vanes were decorated with holes or markers on the outer edge which enabled the helmsman to make an assessment of the sun's height from the position and length of the shadow, and thus to work out his position by rule of thumb. These holes may have been used to attach streamers as a visual aid. The ships equipped with these weathervanes may have been the 'flagships' of their fleets, taking the lead in navigation and in manoeuvring. The dragon on the weathervane may thus have signified the position of the fleet's leader, and may even have given rise to the name drakka (dragon) for the largest type of Viking period ship.

Date
Wednesday 9th September 2015 - Saturday 12th September 2015, Antiquities, Coins & Natural History

TimeLine Auctions Ltd arranges printed catalogue rostrum Auctions, eAuctions and Timed Auctions where we offer antiquities, ancient artefacts / artifacts, antiques, collectibles, coins, medals and books for public sale.

Lot No. 1155

Next Lot

Previous Lot

Auction Catalogue


Viewing from noon Monday 19th February 2018
Champagne Reception: 5.30 - 9pm
Auctions start 10am GMT (Lunch 1.30 - 2pm)

Tuesday 20th February 2018 (Day 1)
Antiquities
(lot 1 - 596)
Wednesday 21st February 2018 (Day 2)
Antiquities (lot 597 - 890)
Coins & Medals (lot 1001 - 1401)

Auction Venue:
The Court House
363 Main Road
Harwich, CO12 4DN


Thursday 22nd February 2018 (Day 3)
Antiquities
(lot 1500 - 2140)
Friday 23rd February 2018 (Day 4)
Antiquities
(lot 2141 - 2805)
Saturday 24th February 2018 (Day 5)
Antiquities
(lot 2806 - 2963)
Coins, Banknotes & Medals (lot 3000 - 3583)

See auction lots:

All Coins
Coins - GreekCoins - Celtic Iron AgeCoins - Roman RepublicCoins - Roman EmpireCoins - ByzantineCoins - Saxon and VikingCoins - NormanCoins - English MedievalCoins - Tudor to StuartCoins - English Milled - GeneralCoins - ScottishCoins - IrishCoins - ShipwreckCoins - WorldCoins - Scales and WeightsCoins - BanknotesMedals - CommemorativeMedals - Civilian & Other AwardsMedals - Military

All Antiquities
Antiquities - EgyptianAntiquities - GreekAntiquities - RomanAntiquities - ByzantineAntiquities - ChristianAntiquities - Stone AgeAntiquities - Bronze Age - EuropeAntiquities - Celtic Iron AgeAntiquities - SaxonAntiquities - VikingAntiquities - GermanicAntiquities - MedievalAntiquities - Post MedievalAntiquities - Arms and ArmourAntiquities - IslamicAntiquities - Western AsiaticAntiquities - China and Far EastAntiquities - India and RegionAntiquities - Natural History

All Books
Books - Numismatic

Auction 092015

Wednesday 9th September 2015 - Saturday 12th September 2015, Antiquities, Coins & Natural History

Browse catalogue