Winchester, Old Minster
Part of a narrative frieze
Between 990-2 and 1093-4, but probably 1016-35

A severely damaged relief which is broken on all four sides. It was found in the excavation of the rubble of the eastern crypt of the Old Minster demolished in 1093-4. A mailed warrior armed with a sword walks to the left into a scene beyond the edge of the stone with his back turned to the scene on the right. On the right is a dog or wolf with its tongue at or in the open mouth of a bound man. Martin Biddle and Birthe Kj¢lbye-Biddle, the excavators, have suggested that an incident in the Norse Volsunga saga is shown here. Sigmund and his nine brothers were clamped by their legs into a pair of stocks in a forest. For nine successive nights a large she-wolf killed one of the brothers until, on the tenth, Sigmund had honey smeared on his face. The wolf put her tongue into Sigmund's mouth, he bit it off and in the struggle the stocks broke.
The style of the relief has been much debated, but it appears to exhibit certain Romanesque features, although it was probably carved earlier than 1066.
Dimensions: H.695, W.520, T.270mm

Bibliography :
Biddle, M. and Kjølbye-Biddle, B.K., 1995. in D.Tweddle, M.Biddle and B. Kjølbye-Biddle (eds), Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, 4: South-east England (Oxford), 314-22
Zarnecki, G., 1984. in G. Zarnecki, J. Holt, and T. Holland, English Romanesque Art, (Arts Council of Great Britain) 150-1, 97
Location and accession details
Winchester City Museum, Winchester Excavations Committee, WP.WS.548

(Photo: © Winchester Excavation Committee)

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