Sculptor William Underhill created the statue of King Alfred The Great, which stands in the center of the green bordered by Alumni Hall, Howell Hall, Powell Campus Center, and Herrick Library.
The result of 10 years of work by Underhill (former School of Art & Design Associate Professor of Sculpture), the statue--dedicated in September 1990--is 5-feet-7 inches tall, weighs 900 pounds and is cast from a bronze-silicon alloy. It rests on a 9-foot base. It was cast in 18 separate pieces using the "lost wax" process and then welded together.
Because no definitive picture of King Alfred exists, Underhill used his imagination to model the face. The figure is in the traditional "chaisos" pose, one foot in front of the other, to give the figure a graceful and natural curve.
After doing extensive research into Alfred and ninth-century England, Underhill added several symbols to his figure. The King holds a book, representing learning, scholarship and the law, and bearing Alfred University's motto, "Fiat Lux" ("Let There Be Light"). The shield rests on the ground to indicate stability and is divided into four quadrants, forming a cross. Each quadrant is emblazoned in relief work with one of the four heraldic beasts suggesting the four evangelists of the New Testament.
The 28-inch sword is based on one unearthed at the Sutton Hoo site in England, where an unidentified Saxon king was buried.
The costume, a replica of what a Saxon nobleman might have worn, consists of a "hauberk," shoulder-to-knee armor which is worn belted over a tunic, a shoulder mantle to indicate authority and strapped leather boots. The crown is modeled after the rounded profile of the crown of Charlemagne.
The generosity of alumni Stephen C. Saunders, '58, and his wife, Barbara Potter Saunders '60, brought the dream of a King Alfred statue to life.