Astrolabe quadrant by Unknown Artist

Astrolabe quadrants are amongst the most sophisticated calculation tools ever made before the invention of the modern computer.


Radius: 7 cm
Art Fund grant:
£50,000 ( Total: £350,000; Export stopped)
Acquired in:
Trevor Philip and Sons Ltd

They combine the mathematical and astronomical features of an astrolabe with a much smaller size. It is engraved on both sides with astronomical and calendrical scales, and is used with the help of a bird-shaped pointer (in itself a unique feature) that is fixed in the centre. Astrolabe quadrants are extremely rare and only seven have ever been recorded. This is the only such object known to be of English origin. This work was acquired with assistance from the Wolfson Foundation.


Found during an archaeological watching brief in Canterbury by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust in 2005; Bonhams, 2007; Trevor Philip and Sons Ltd.

Venue details

British Museum Great Russell Street, LONDON London WC1B 3DG 020 7323 8181

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