Tiny medieval knight for Bassetlaw Museum

  • 19 September 2006

The Art Fund has helped Bassetlaw Museum in Retford, Nottinghamshire, to acquire a diminutive and extremely rare medieval bronze figurine of a knight on horseback.

The Carlton-in-Lindrick Knight was acquired for £34,000, with a £10,000 grant from The Art Fund. Additional funding came from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Beecroft Bequest and Bassetlaw Museum’s Donations Fund. 

The tiny bronze figure, only 5cm high, was discovered by a metal detectorist in Carlton-in-Lindrick in Bassetlaw in 2004 and sold to a dealer.  A sale was later agreed with a buyer in the US.  However, the figurine was export-stopped by Culture Minister, David Lammy, in February 2006 on the grounds that it is of outstanding significance for medieval studies.  The museum put together an extensive funding package which successfully secured the knight for Bassetlaw.

The Carlton-in-Lindrick Knight is a very rare and beautiful representation of an early medieval knight and his horse in the round and measures just 49.5mm in height, 37mm in length and 15mm in width.  The knight holds a kite shaped shield in his right hand and the horse’s reins in his left.  He has a moustache and wears a conical shaped helmet.  

The figurine dates to the twelfth century and although this is a period when images of the knight proliferate, representations of a knight and horse in the round are very rare.  The exact function of the knight is unknown.  It is believed likely that it was made as a decoration for a larger object, such as a candlestick, chalice cover or incense burner, but other suggestions have included a chess piece or toy. 

The knight will go a public display for the first time at a Medieval Festival on Saturday 23 September at Bassetlaw Museum.  Bassetlaw Museum is open Monday - Saturday 10am - 5pm. 

Related Links:

Bassetlaw Museum www.bassetlawmuseum.org.uk