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Saxon Lyre

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This is a "rote", a lyre of Saxon origin, circa 600-800 AD. My reproduction is based on several instruments found in burial mounds along the eastern coast of England, the most famous being Sutton Hoo, where an entire 7th or 8th century ship was used as the burial chamber. Artifacts from that ship and pieces of the original rote are on display in the British Museum.

This one is based on an instrument found in Prittlewell, England, in 2001. It is hollow and made of maple and black walnut. Hand-carved kingwood tuning pegs and a maple tailpiece depicting medieval characters complete the period effect. It is 8" wide, 30" long, with a body 1" deep. Overall depth is 3".

This is a lovely sounding instrument that is popular for playing at Renaissance Fairs, SCA gatherings, medieval re-enactments, or just playing and having fun. The tuning is unknown and has been lost to history, so you can tune the six nylon strings any way you want. It can be played like a harp, or some strings can be dampened to produce chords.

Please contact me if you would like to hear a sound clip of this instrument.

Saxon Lyre


  • Handmade item
  • Materials: maple, black walnut, kingwood
  • Only ships within United States.
  • Feedback: 22 reviews
  • Favorited by: 59 people