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07.07.2021

Folding knife handle in the form of a hound biting a hare

Incomplete Roman open-worked copper alloy and iron knife in the form of a hare and a hound. The handle is intact and depicts a stylized hound catching a running hare, on a massive rod with a longitudinal groove at the bottom where the blade of the knife was to be inserted. The animals have long limbs, and the hound keeps its muzzle on the hare's tail. The hare has long triangular ears laid back on its head. The hound is large and seems to run at full speed, extending its front legs forward, flipping back its ears and curving up its long tail. The flat, rectangular buttstock has vertical protrusions at both ends. Traces of an iron blade, secured by an iron rivet through the buttstock, can be seen between the hound's hind legs and in the slot below the handle.

The motifs are very stylized and might not have been identified if more naturalistic examples of similar objects had not been found elsewhere. The blade was iron, but it is almost completely rusted from having been buried in the ground more than 1,500 years ago.

The handle of the knife was found in a grave in Winchester's northern Roman cemetery. The age is 45 years or older, and the gender of the person could not be determined from the bones, but burials of such implements usually belong to men. A similar Roman knife was also found along with other Roman objects intentionally buried as grave goods in an Anglo-Saxon grave in Worthy Park. Both items are on display at the City Museum, this one in the Venta Gallery and the Worthy Park item in the Wintancester Gallery.

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