A cast copper-alloy object of the mid Anglo-Saxon period, tentatively identified as the handle of a cosmetic implement. The object consists of a highly stylised human figure, mounted axially on a plain, slightly tapered, sub-cylindrical base. The upper part of the figure is cylindrical, with the face engraved at the top end. The lower part is wider, shaped like an inverted pear, and has a large hole from front to back through the bulbous upper section. Flat, angular appendages protrude from each side of the head, and from the body, both above and below the large hole. The appendages are all engraved with linear decoration on their front face only. The outer ends of the lower appendages were probably originally joined, and it is possible to interpret them as arms, bent at the elbows with hands on hips. This interpretation is supported by the fact that five fingers(?) are engraved on the lowest appendages at the junction with the body. The appendages on the head probably represent two birds (see below).

No close parallel has been traced, but the object appears to be related to others of generally similar form and size, examples of which are recorded on the PAS database as LIN-756E6A, SF5471 and SF3807. Another example, from the Swedish island of Íland*, is described as having "two flat horns springing from the centre of the head, which each end in a bird's head". A similar description applies to the appendages on the head of the present object, except that here the complete bird is depicted, rather than horns. This strongly suggests that the figure is a representation of the Norse god, Odin, wearing a headdress depicting his companion ravens, 'Hugin' and 'Mugin'.

The specific function of the object is uncertain, but a cosmetic implement of some sort seems most likely. Related objects (e.g. see Vera Evison, Dover: Anglo-Saxon Cemetery, page 84, fig. 14a) have been found with separately made iron elements fitted into the socketed end of their bases. These iron elements have invariably been lost to corrosion, but could be tweezers, nail cleaners, ear-scoops, etc. The example cited, and others found in Sweden, are from female burials.

It would seem most likely that the object is a Scandinavian import, as very few comparable objects are recorded as having been found in Britain. The three PAS examples cited are from sites in Suffolk and Lincolnshire, the present one from East Yorkshire, all counties bordering the east coast.

* This is illustrated (for comparison) with the Dover Anglo-Saxon cemetery example as fig. 14b.

The UKDFD is grateful to Bob Green for much of the research that went into the identification of this rare object. It is designated on the database as a find of special significance.