PART of a 1,400-year-old sword is up for auction – complete with a swastika symbol hand-carved by the original owner.
The 6th Century, Anglo-Saxon gilt silver sword pommel was dug up by treasure hunters last March.
The find has been described as “extremely rare” as there are only half a dozen examples of runes carved on Anglo-Saxon weapons.
And the pommel dug up in the Isle of Wight may be the only one to bear a swastika, which was at the time a symbol of peace, luck and prosperity.
Despite its rarity, local museums were unable to buy the item which is up for auction with an estimated price of up to £3,000.
A historian is crowdfunding to purchase the piece and gift it to a museum so it does not disappear into a private collection.
Matt Bunker, from Nailsea, Somerset, needs to raise the cash before the auction in London on February 26.
He said: “There are runes on both sides of the pommel. Any runes from the Anglo-Saxon period are rare.
“There are only a small number – half a dozen at most – where runes are carved onto weapons. It’s exciting.
“It’s not the material value that makes it rare, it’s the runes.”
Matt, 50, wrote on his appeal page: ““Our objective is to raise enough money to buy the pommel at auction, make an accurate study of it and produce a detailed description and a set of high definition photographs.
“We will then place the object with a museum, where it can be appreciated by all who come to see it.”
Metal detectorists found the pommel in Brighstone and, as required, submitted it to the Portable Antiquities Scheme. They declared it “treasure” which means, by law, it must be offered first to a museum.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme described the runes in detail, writing:”Both of the pommel’s broad faces are decorated, each with a slightly different design.
“One face has an upper border of punched triangles and a central vertical arrow, pointing upwards. Along the base is a row of four ring-and-dot motifs.
“The other face also has an upper border of punched triangles and a central vertical arrow. It has a ring-and-dot motif in each lower corner, and an incised swastika flanking the arrow.”
Matt believes the local museum service lacks the funds to buy and display the piece.
So the finder has put it up for sale at Timeline Auctions in London with a minimum bid price of £1800.
Matt said: “I want to put it on display on the Isle of Wight rather than disappearing into collection.
“The Isle of Wight was the last part of Anglo-Saxon England to be Christianised and have a Pagan King. This is important to the island’s story.”
Timeline Auctions have estimated the value of the pommel at between £2000 and £3000 with an opening bid of £1800.
The auctioneers note the item is in “fine condition and extremely rare”.
To help with Matt’s fundraising efforts, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/brightstone-sword-pommel