Scale models: George and the dragon

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Image courtesy of the Portable Antiquities Scheme
Image courtesy of the Portable Antiquities Scheme

Standing just 4cm high, St George raises his lance to strike a fatal blow against the tiny dragon staring back at him. His outstretched hand probably once gripped his scaly foe by the tail, though they have since broken apart. Discovered by a metal detectorist in the Carlisle area last April, these silver gilt figures were handed in to the Portable Antiquities Scheme and are now being valued under the Treasure Act.

George’s full-plate armour and the plate mitts protecting his hands are characteristic of the 15th century, and a small loop on his back suggests that the figures were once intended to be attached to fabric. They might have once adorned the hat or clothing of a Medieval pilgrim, perhaps commemorating a visit to the chapel at Windsor Castle which houses relics attributed to the saint including two fingers, part of his arm, his heart and a piece of his skull.

Stuart Noon, Finds Liaison Officer for Lancashire and Cumbria, believes the pair might have had a more chivalrous owner, however. He suggested that the fine work indicates they belonged to a high-status individual, perhaps a knight, who could have worn the badge on his doublet.

‘It’s a really unusual piece, incredibly detailed for something of this size — it really is a work of art,’ he said. ‘Because it is so beautifully made I would think it more likely that this was the emblem of a knight rather than a pilgrim’s badge. It is quite a high status piece made by a top craftsman and I suspect it would belong to someone high up.’

This article was published in CA 266

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