Horseshoes

Introduction

Horseshoes are worthy of study because of the light they shed on metalling of roads and extent of horse transport. Changes in their form and approach to their attachment can, in a broad sense, illuminate changes in horse stature. Some of the horseshoes recorded also have the potential to shine a sidelight on animal care (Clark 2004, 82).

This guide follows Clark (2004). This itself supersedes the some of the content, but, most importantly, the classification terms used in his earlier FRG Datasheet 4 (Clark 1986); for convenience both are mentioned here. Of course many metal-detected examples or casual finds are likely to be incomplete, and so will be very difficult to date and classify even with the use of X-rays.

PAS object type(s) to be used

Use HORSESHOE

Separate object type terms exist for Roman ‘shoes’ (HIPPOSANDAL), and shoes specifically for donkeys (DONKEY SHOE) or oxen (OX SHOE). SHOEING NAIL also exists for recording nails found separately.

PAS object classifications to be used

Where possible, for late early-medieval and medieval horseshoes, Clark’s (2004) type can be added to the Classification field in the following form: Clark type 2B

Terms to use in the description

Horseshoes are formed of an iron plate with the toe at one end at the heel at the opposite end (see figure). They were fixed to the hoof using ‘clenched’ nails, which were set in circular or rectangular nail-holes located in the branches and generally avoiding the toe. Medieval nails of the fiddle-key form have large semicircular heads. Often the nail-head protruded for grip but was protected from undue wear by either separate countersinkings, in the late early-medieval and medieval period, or by a fuller (a more continuous groove near the edge), in the post-medieval period. Further grip could be provided by calkins, projections at the heel, which could be formed by thickening or bending the heel (for different forms of calkin see Clark 1986, 1; fig. 2; 2004, 81; fig. 59). The toe-clip (not shown) is a post-medieval trait.

Horseshoe terminology: ground surface shown. Images - left, medieval horseshoe (BH-AAFF1B); right, post-medieval horseshoe (HAMP-D34F92). Copyrights: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; Winchester Museums Service; CC-BY-SA licence)
Horseshoe terminology: ground surface shown. Images – left, medieval horseshoe (BH-AAFF1B); right, post-medieval horseshoe (HAMP-D34F92). Copyrights: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; Winchester Museums Service; CC-BY-SA licence)

Useful measurements to take (where possible) are: Length – taken perpendicularly toe to midpoint between heels; width – taken at the widest point perpendicular to the length; thickness – for thoroughness specify where this is taken; the web – the width of the branch, conventionally taken between the last two nail-holes before the toe (see figure) so as to avoid any expansions (caused primarily when making countersinkings), or state if taken at the widest point of the bar present; weight.

Date

Nailed horseshoes are first attested in the 9th and 10th centuries (Clark 2004, 94), and have been used to the present day.

Early-medieval horseshoes

One of the earliest attested nailed horseshoes was found in Winchester in a late 9th-century context (Clark 2004, 94). It may be classified as Clark type 1 (formerly ‘Pre-Conquest’), a form otherwise documented from contexts from the 10th century to the 12th century (Clark 2004, 94-95). These horseshoes are thin (2-3 mm), have fairly wide webs, very few have calkins, and the nail-holes are circular within rectangular countersinkings, usually three within each branch (Clark 2004, 114; fig. 80 for illustrated examples).

Late early-medieval to medieval horseshoe of Clark type 1 (LON-D0A687). Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; CC-BY licence)
Late early-medieval to medieval horseshoe of Clark type 1 (LON-D0A687). Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; CC-BY licence)

Medieval horseshoes

Horseshoes of Clark type 1, discussed above, persisted into the medieval period.

Clark’s type 2 (sub-divided into 2A and 2B, formerly ‘Norman’) is dated to the late 11th to late 13th century.  They have thicker (5+ mm), narrower webs than type 1, and the countersinking has caused a wavy or ‘lobate’ edge (Clark 2004, 115-116; figs 80, 81 for illustrated examples). The sub-types are distinguished by nail-holes within the countersinking, and this seems to have a chronological significance: in type 2A they are circular (late-11th to 13th century); in type 2B they are rectangular (mid-12th to 13th century).  About 90% of this type have calkins. Both sub-types tend to have three nails in each branch, though there are exceptions. Nails generally have a ‘fiddle-key‘ head.

Clark’s type 3 (formerly ‘Transitional’) is heavier, but continues the rectangular holes within countersinkings of type 2B. It has a wider web and a smooth, not wavy, edge (Clark 2004, 117-119; figs 83-85 for illustrated examples). About three-quarters of them have calkins, and there are three or four holes on each branch. These date from the 13th or 14th century. Nails can have a ‘fiddle-key’ head, or a new form, broadly trapezoidal, expanded at the base of the head.

Clark’s type 4 (formerly ‘Later Medieval’, also sometimes referred to as ‘Guildhall’ or ‘Dove’) has a wide web and no countersinkings; the nail-holes flare towards the ground surface (Clark 2004, 120-123; figs 86-89 for illustrated examples). Some shoes within this type have a distinctively angular inner profile at the toe end (e.g. Clark 2004, 121; no. 222). There are three or four holes on each branch, and about half have calkins, sometimes only one on the outer heel. These date from the 14th century onwards, continuing into the 16th century.

Medieval horseshoes: of Clark type 2 (left, SOMDOR198); of Clark type 3 (centre, PUBLIC-D24EF7); of Clark type 4 (right, HAMP-F0EA17). Copyrights: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; All rights reserved; Winchester Museum Service; CC-BY-SA licence)
Medieval horseshoes: of Clark type 2 (left, SOMDOR198); of Clark type 3 (centre, PUBLIC-D24EF7); of Clark type 4 (right, HAMP-F0EA17). Copyrights: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; All rights reserved; Winchester Museum Service; CC-BY-SA licence)

Post-medieval horseshoes

Shire Album 19 (Sparkes 1989) should be disregarded for the medieval period, but it is useful for the post-medieval period from which most horseshoes brought in for assessment will probably date.

In general, 17th-century and later horseshoes are large and heavy, and have more nail-holes, now for often spaced right around the shoe including the toe. The holes are often punched through a fuller. Sometimes the internal aperture has a ‘keyhole‘ shape. Very modern slender shoes with fullers date from the first half of the 19th century.

Post-medieval horseshoes: c. 17th century (left, SOM-EC2884); c. 18th century (right, SUR-C85352). Copyrights: Somerset County Council; Berkshire Archaeology; CC-BY-SA licence)
Post-medieval horseshoes: c. 17th century (left, SOM-EC2884); c. 18th century (right, SUR-C85352). Copyrights: Somerset County Council; Berkshire Archaeology; CC-BY-SA licence)

Examples

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Key references

Clark 2004 (1995)

Clark 1986

Sparkes 1989 (1976)

Pilgrim Badges

Introduction

As souvenirs, proofs of pilgrimages and to evoke (the protection of) saints, medieval pilgrims purchased metal badges at shrine sites which were then worn, typically on hats.  Other souvenirs included pendants, ampullae, bells and whistles.  Pilgrim badges were imbued with religious power via contact with holy relics at the shrine, turning them into more than souvenirs: they became talismans, or secondary relics.  Pilgrim badges were most commonly made from lead alloys (their composition is unknowable by sight and is often technically tin alloy), and, increasingly less commonly,from  copper alloy, and precious metal.  They could be attached by integral pins or sewn on via loops either on the reverse or set at the edge (the last is a common feature of continental and many Scottish pilgrim badges).

The PAS data provides a unique way of exploring devotion at a regional level, for example helping localise the site of a particular saint’s shrine where it is not known through mapping relevant badges (e.g. Lewis 2013), or assessing the sphere of influence of a known shrine (Egan 2010; The Digital Pilgrim Project; Kunera).  It can also act as a corrective to a traditional association of pilgrim badges with watercourses, perhaps based on an old focus on urban recovery (Egan 2010, 209).  The most useful aspect of a record, where possible, is to identify the cult to which the badge belonged, and the database will help with this, along with the main reference works.  The most popular cults had influence beyond a regional scale: Becket at Canterbury; St Barbara; the Virgin Mary at Walsingham.

PAS object type(s) to be used

Use PILGRIM BADGE.  This is to distinguish the corpus from secular and livery badges

Date

Major European shrines began producing metal badges in the second half of the 12th century (Spencer 1990, 8).  However, the badges we encounter from England mainly date from the early 14th century onwards (Egan 2010, 212; Lewis 2013, 280).  Pilgrimage ceased with the Reformation from the mid 16th century onwards.  Very few pilgrim badges can therefore be attributed to the post-medieval period as the Broad Period.  One example of a late form, dating from c. 1450 onwards, consists of a copper-alloy or silver bracteate like badge with embossed design (Spencer in Margeson 1993, 7); copper-alloy badges tend to date in general from the mid-15th century (Spencer 1998, 12).

Examples

Medieval to early post-medieval pilgrim badges: St George (top left, SOM-315A8C); St Barbara (bottom left, HAMP-B9815C); St Thomas Becket (centre, LON-104944); St Guilhem-le-Desert (top right, YORYM-F112E1); Virgin and child (bottom right, LON-4FC379). Copyrights: Somerset County Council; Hampshire Cultural Trust; Museum of London; York Museums Trust; CC-BY licence)
Medieval to early post-medieval pilgrim badges: St George (top left, SOM-315A8C); St Barbara (bottom left, HAMP-B9815C); St Thomas Becket (centre, LON-104944); St Guilhem-le-Desert (top right, YORYM-F112E1); Virgin and child (bottom right, LON-4FC379). Copyrights: Somerset County Council; Hampshire Cultural Trust; Museum of London; York Museums Trust; CC-BY licence)

Search for all examples of pilgrim badges

Key references

Spencer 1990

Spencer 1998

Lewis 2014

Toys (2001 guide)

Please note that this guide has not been fundamentally changed from the original print version of the Finds Recording Guide (Geake 2001), written when the database contained just 8,800 non-numismatic records.

Introduction

Follow the guidance given in Egan 1988. Don’t use the word ‘petronel’ as it isn’t specific enough. A separate guide may be consulted specifically for ‘hornbooks‘.

PAS Object type to be used

Use TOY

PAS object classification to be used

Use hornbook in the Classification field, as applicable

Date

Most toys recorded by the PAS date from the post-medieval period (Egan 1988; Forsyth with Egan 2005), or even later.  Medieval toys, however, are increasingly documented (Egan 1998, 281-283)

Examples

Toys: Medieval to post-medieval toy cauldron (top left, LVPL-BED0BC); post-medieval whirligig (top centre, YORYM-03FDCA); post-medieval cannon with carriage (top right, SOM-D20D91); post-medieval male figure (centre, SOM-CA72E2); post-medieval toy pistol (bottom, SOM-2A3937). Copyright: National Museums Liverpool; York Museums Trust; Somerset County Council; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; CC-BY-SA licence)
Toys: Medieval to post-medieval toy cauldron (top left, LVPL-BED0BC); post-medieval whirligig (top centre, YORYM-03FDCA); post-medieval cannon with carriage (top right, SOM-D20D91); post-medieval male figure (centre, SOM-CA72E2); post-medieval toy pistol (bottom, SOM-2A3937). Copyright: National Museums Liverpool; York Museums Trust; Somerset County Council; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; CC-BY-SA licence)

Search for all examples of toys

Key references

Egan 1988

Forsyth with Egan 2005

Egan 1998

Tokens

Introduction

Tokens are metal discs which feature designs and often inscriptions, and which were intended for use either as symbols of receipt or debt for either goods or services, as passes, or in small transactions in times of shortage of small denominations in the currency. Being like a coin in terms of form and design, along with jettons, medals and medallions, jettons are items of ‘paranumismatica’. They are distinguished from coins by their issuers and use but also in some period by their physical properties, being made of base metals, and sometimes cast – though many tokens were also struck or milled, as with coins.

PAS object type(s) to be used

Use TOKEN

This will enable a ‘jetton/token’ data entry form once the core data form has been saved.

PAS object classification to be used

With one exception (below), leave this field blank, as with most other numismatic or paranumismatic records: relevant data can be entered in the ‘jetton/token’ form.

However, for 17th-century trade tokens use the Classification field to record the Williamson number, specifying the county, in the following format:

Williamson [county] [number] e.g. Williamson Kent 124, Williamson Somerset 45

If recorded since Williamson 1967 (1889-1891), but using his numbering system (e.g. by Dickinson 1986), then in the following format:

e.g. Williamson Dorset 65A

If it is not in Williamson or Dickinson or other county publications that follow Williamson’s numbering, then add the following:

Not in Williamson

Terms to use in the description

When recording tokens, the usual numismatic conventions and terms apply, such as writing terms out in full rather than abbreviating.  On the ‘jetton/token’ data form Obverse and Reverse Descriptions can be taken from the reference works, but do check every aspect to make sure that it applies to the token that you are recording.  If you can, add reference numbers from the main works discussed below.  On the artefact form, the opening sentence can be written in the following format:

A status/completeness/treatment (as applicable) period(s) material century (if single century) denomination/class token issued by issuer at town in county (as applicable), referencedating to [year on token (on token) or appropriate range]. Ref.: Author (year, page(s)).

Some examples of opening sentences –

A medieval to post-medieval lead Boy bishop token (penny-sized issue), Rigold Series III, ‘profile series’ dating to c. 1470-c. 1539.  Ref.: Rigold (1978, 95/pl. Xa).

A post-medieval lead biface token, Powell Type 1 depicting six-petalled flower/Type 2 depicting initials JN, dating to c. 1550-c. 1750.

A post-medieval copper-alloy 17th-century trade token farthing issued by John Grenway at Crewkerne in Somerset, Williamson Somerset 109, dating to 1648 to 1672. Ref.: Williamson (1891, 978).

A post-medieval copper-alloy 17th-century trade token halfpenny issued by Francis Woodcock at Horwood in Buckinghamshire, Williamson Buckinghamshire 75A, dating to 1656 to 1672. Not in Williamson, ref.: Dickinson (1986, 29).

To be followed by: details of any piercings including location of etc, dimensions, any other details

Date

Although some Roman leaden and copper-alloy tokens are known, the use of tokens focuses on the medieval and post-medieval periods.  In the medieval period leaden tokens were cast, and while tokens in lead continued to be used into the post-medieval period, the majority of post-medieval tokens were struck in copper alloys.

Roman tokens

Roman tokens were not widely used in the province, but some may have reached Britain in the Roman period.  Copper-alloy spintriae date to the 1st century AD and tend to depict a sexual scene on one face and a Roman numeral on the other (e.g. LON-E98F21).  Their function remains debated, due to a lack of contextual evidence.  Lead-alloy tesserae are currently the subject of a PhD by Denise Wilding and it is hoped more can be said in future.

Medieval tokens

Medieval tokens were cast leaden objects with usually bifacial decoration which tended to be used as receipts for service or goods (Mitchiner and Skinner 1983, 29).  They tend to gain prominence from c. 1200 (Mitchiner and Skinner 1983, 29), with various lead tokens found in 12th-century contexts simply blank discs, and therefore undiagnostic of date.  Many medieval tokens were issued in an ecclesiastical context, such as as alms. One well researched example being the ‘Boy Bishop’  tokens of East Anglia, which will be discussed below in this section, though extended into the post-medieval period. Within the medieval period a number of groups can be discerned.

Pictorial tokens

A group of lead-alloy tokens generally grouped under the label ‘pictorial’ are thought to date to the 13th and early 14th centuries.  They show a variety of bifacial designs, including people, animals, shields and crosses (Mitchiner and Skinner 1983, 68-75; pls 1-8).  Known mostly from urban sites, notably in London and Dublin, very few examples have been recorded by the PAS.

Geometric tokens

After a period of transition, pictorial tokens were superseded by bifacial tokens with one face having a geometric design, often a cross or multifoil (Mitchiner and Skinner 1983, 76-77; pls 9-10).  These tokens were made from lead and have been dated between c. 1350 and c. 1425 (Mitchiner and Skinner 1983, 62).  Again, these are rare on PAS outside London.

‘Cross and Pellets’ tokens

These mostly lead tokens are c. 12 mm in diameter and are characterised by having a bifacial design with a short cross potent on the reverse, with a ring and dot in each quarter; the border between an inner and outer circle is filled with oblique rays.  Various designs can be found on the obverse.  Again, these are rare on PAS outside London; published examples are known primarily from London (Mitchiner and Skinner 1984, 145-146; pls 4-5) and Salisbury (Egan in Saunders ed. 2001).

Medieval tokens in lead or lead alloy: 'Pictorial' type (left, LON-8E1413); 'Geometric' type (centre, LON-F15A334); 'Cross and Pellets' type (right, PUBLIC-9E0AD7). Copyrights: Museum of London; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; CC-BY licence)
Medieval tokens in lead or lead alloy: ‘Pictorial’ type (left, LON-8E1413); ‘Geometric’ type (centre, LON-F15A334); ‘Cross and Pellets’ type (right, PUBLIC-9E0AD7). Copyrights: Museum of London; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; CC-BY licence)

Post-medieval tokens

Post-medieval tokens are numerous and can be divided into numerous types, but also along basic lines in terms of their primary material: there is a continuation of leaden tokens, but also the introduction of copper-alloy tokens from the 16th century onwards.  In the following sub-section the lead examples will be dealt with first, before moving on to copper-alloy tokens, which are dominated by trade tokens from periods where there was a lack of small denominations in the currency.  Finally, mention will be made of other types of token, although these not tend to be recorded by the PAS due to their late date.

‘Boy Bishop’ tokens

These cast leaden tokens are a phenomenon of Suffolk (mostly) in England and of north-east France (Mitchiner and Skinner 1983, 32).  Starting in the late medieval period, they evoke St Nicholas and are thought to relate to the temporary reign of a Boy Bishop between St Nicholas’ Day and Childermas, that is, for most of December, and were distributed as alms.  Their appearance can be related to contemporary coins of the late medieval and early post-medieval periods: a larger groat-like token, a medium-sized halfgroat-like token, and a smaller penny-sized token.  Division into eleven ‘series’ by Rigold (1978 – available here) can be followed where possible.

Medieval to post-medieval 'Boy bishop' tokens: Penny-sized example (left, SF-E8C174); Groat-sized example (right, SF-D642E8). Copyright: Suffolk County Council; CC-BY licence)
Medieval to post-medieval ‘Boy Bishop’ tokens: Penny-sized example (left, SF-E8C174); Groat-sized example (right, SF-D642E8). Copyright: Suffolk County Council; CC-BY licence)

Late Elizabethan tokens

The status of a number of leaden pieces has been debated over the years: they are thought to date to the late 16th century or the years after 1600 (Mitchiner 1998, 1653).  Tokens, medalets or counters, they are recorded by North number (North 1975, 116; nos 2061-2064), although some rare types are not covered by North.

Late Elizabethan tokens: North 2062 (top left, LON-9004B5); North 2063 (top right, pending); Phoenix type, not in North (bottom left, WILT-B3FD93); North 2064 (bottom right, ESS-C49877). Copyrights: Museum of London; pending; Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum; Colchester Museums; CC-BY-SA licence)
Late Elizabethan tokens: North 2062 (top left, LON-9004B5); North 2063 (top right, pending); Phoenix type, not in North (bottom left, WILT-B3FD93); North 2064 (bottom right, ESS-C49877). Copyrights: Museum of London; pending; Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum; Colchester Museums; CC-BY-SA licence)

Also of the late 16th century is the so-called ‘Lyon counter‘, named after the lion on the obverse.  These are largely found in London and the South East.

Other leaden tokens

The dating of other leaden tokens can be difficult due to their often basic designs. Uniface or biface, often they will bear initials, and sometimes dates: these dated examples place them between the early 17th century and the early 19th century.  This notwithstanding, some have been published as medieval based on similarities between certain designs and those found on medieval coins.  However, we can note simple cross and pellets designs found in 17th-century contexts in London (Egan 2005, 170-171; fig. 165), suggesting that most of these tokens are of post-medieval date.  Read (2016, 139-141) illustrated a number of such tokens to which he gives a c. 18th-century date.  Try to attribute Powell types to the obverse/reverse designs (as applicable) in your description, e.g.: Powell type 2 depicting initials/Powell type 8 depicting numerals.

Post-medieval leaden tokens: With initials, Powell type 2/Powell type 8 (top left, SUSS-A218DF); With wine bottle and glass, Powell type 11 (bottom left, WILT-768805); With flower, Powell type 2 (top right, SUSS-4EB5AE); With cross and pellets, Powell type 14 (bottom right, SUSS-1BEB58). Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum; CC-BY licence)
Post-medieval leaden tokens: With initials, Powell type 2/Powell type 8 (top left, SUSS-A218DF); With wine bottle and glass, Powell type 11 (bottom left, WILT-768805); With flower, Powell type 2 (top right, SUSS-4EB5AE); With cross and pellets, Powell type 14 (bottom right, SUSS-1BEB58). Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum; CC-BY licence)

17th-century trade tokens

To deal with a lack of small denominations in the regal coinage civic institutions and individual business people issued copper-alloy tokens between 1648 and 1672 (1679 in Ireland); the end date resulting from the reintroduction of farthings in copper alloy by Charles II.  These 17th-century trade tokens had predecessors in the Bristol copper-alloy token issue of c. 1577 to 1583.  These Bristol tokens were struck on square or nearly square flans; most 17th-century trade tokens are circular, although other shapes existed.  The main series comprised over 14,000 types and were denominated as farthings (from 1648), halfpennies (thought to be from 1656) and pennies (from 1663).  Use Williamson 1967 (1889-1891) and other resources (e.g. Thompson and Dickinson 1984-2011 – the Norweb collection) to establish a Williamson number where possible, and complete the Classification and Description fields as set out above.  Look out for triads of initials on privately-issued tokens and civic arms on tokens issued by town and city authorities.

17th-century trade tokens are currently the subject of a PhD by Laura Burnett.

Post-medieval trade tokens: Farthing token, private issue (top left, LON-FDA3BD); Halfpenny token, private issue (bottom left, LON-0958EC); Farthing token, civic issue (top right, LON-E3B1BB); Penny token, private issue, heart shaped (bottom right, NMGW-3768A7). Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; CC-BY licence)
Post-medieval trade tokens: Farthing token, private issue (top left, LON-FDA3BD); Halfpenny token, private issue (bottom left, LON-0958EC); Farthing token, civic issue (top right, LON-E3B1BB); Penny token, private issue, heart shaped (bottom right, NMGW-3768A7). Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; CC-BY licence)

Late 18th- and early 19th-century trade tokens

Tokens were again issued in the late 18th century, between 1787 and 1796, and then in the early 19th century, between 1811 and 1820 to deal with a lack of small denominations.  Both groups of issues are well made, with elaborate designs, long inscriptions and are generally dated; they are generally denominated as halfpennies and pennies.  The 18th-century group are often called ‘Conder tokens’, after James Conder a contemporary collector; they can be recorded using Dalton and Hamer (1977 (1910)).  The early 19th-century group is well surveyed by Withers and Withers (1999).

Late 18th-century 'Conder' token from Banbury (left, SUR-584F19); early 19th-century token from Redruth (right, CORN-D77C16). Copyright: Surrey County Council; Royal Institution of Cornwall; CC-BY licence)
Late 18th-century ‘Conder’ token from Banbury (left, SUR-584F19); early 19th-century token from Redruth (right, CORN-D77C16). Copyright: Surrey County Council; Royal Institution of Cornwall; CC-BY licence)

Other post-medieval and modern tokens

Other tokens include pub checks and communion tokens, for which local resources often exist.

Examples

Search for all examples of tokens

Key references

Williamson 1967 (1889-1891) – available here (Vol. 1), here (Vol. 2)

Mitchiner and Skinner 1983 – available here

Thompson and Dickinson 1984-2011

Tumbrels

Introduction

Tumbrels are two-part balances which were used to check the weights of specific coins.  They were used to identify rogue, underweight coins which would neither tip nor balance the beam/balance-arm (MacGregor 1985, 440).

Though they are known from the Byzantine empire in our early early-medieval period (MacGregor 1985, 440-442; fig. 1), we would expect to only record medieval examples, though the late post-medieval period saw a resurgence in the use of such balances.

PAS object type to be used

Use TUMBREL for such coin balances

Medieval tumbrels

Terms to use in the description

Tumbrels are sometimes called trebuchet-type coin balances and it can be useful to include this phrase in the Description field to aid searching. Tumbrels are comprises of an arm and a beam (Algar and Egan in Saunders (ed.) 2001), the latter sometimes called the ‘balance-arm’ (Rogers 1993).  The arm is variously termed the ‘stirrup’ or ‘pivot’ arm, while the beam has an integral weight and ‘pan’ or ‘tray’ (Egan 1998).

Sometimes the ‘stirrup’ arm terminates in an acorn (Rogers 1993, 2; fig. 1) or an animal head (Rogers 1993, 3; fig. 3/LANCUM-54BC04).

Date

Dating evidence for tumbrels comes from excavated evidence, the earliest British dating being pre 1175, though this for a bone example from Castle Acre Castle (Margeson in Coad and Streeten 1982, 244-245).  Stylistic evidence, namely some of the ‘typically Romanesque animal-head terminals’, may allow for a 12th-century date for some examples (Ashley 2016, 286).  However, a most copper-alloy examples have been found in 13th-century contexts (Rogers 1993, 1), with some going into the 14th century (Margeson in Coad and Streeten 1982, 244).

In addition we have the evidence of the objects themselves.  Functioning examples seem often to have operated to a standard of 22 grains, comparable to silver pennies issued between 1279 and 1526 (Rogers 1993, 1).  With penny masses reducing through time, experiments have suggested that some tumbrels would have weighed coins circulating in the later 14th and early 15th centuries (MacGregor 1985, 442).

Overall, a date range of c. 1200 – c. 1450 would seem reasonable for medieval copper-alloy tumbrels.

Examples

Medieval tumbrel (DOR-E7C843)
Medieval tumbrel (DOR-E7C843) Copyright: Somerset County Council; CC-BY licence)

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Post-medieval tumbrels

These are conventionally not recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme as many related to 19th-century coins, such as gold sovereigns and half-sovereigns as reintroduced in 1817 (MacGregor 1985, 443).

Examples

Search for all examples of post-medieval tumbrels

Key references

Egan 1998

Algar and Egan in Saunders (ed.) 2001

Rogers 1993

Seaxes (2001 guide)

Please note that this guide has not been fundamentally changed from the original print version of the Finds Recording Guide (Geake 2001), written when the database contained just 8,800 non-numismatic records.

Introduction

There is a particular kind of large early-medieval knife known as a ‘seax’ (pronounced ‘sax’; from the Old English word for knife) which appears to have functioned differently from a sword (perhaps as a hunting knife, perhaps multi-functional) and so has a separate Object Type term.

Most of the fragments we deal with will be the non-ferrous fittings on the hilt of the weapon, which are also the most susceptible to change in form and decoration.

PAS object type to be used

Use SEAX

PAS object classifications to be used

Use pommel, pommel bar and guard, accordingly

Date

Seaxes are generally early-medieval objects, some of which extend slightly into the medieval period.

Examples

Early-medieval seax (LANCUM-9D9585). Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; CC-BY-SA licence)
Early-medieval seax (LANCUM-9D9585). Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; CC-BY-SA licence)

Search for all examples of seaxes

Jew’s Harps

Introduction

Jew’s harps are small musical instruments that are played by plucking a flexible tongue/reed with one’s fingers, the tongue attached to a frame held in one hand at one end and by the player’s teeth at the other.  Though most jew’s harps are made of iron (Wardle in Egan 1998, 284), the majority of examples recorded through the PAS are composite objects with a copper-alloy frame, and a separate iron tongue/reed (usually lost to corrosion).

PAS object type to be used

Use JEWS HARP

Date

Jew’s harps had been introduced to Europe by the time of the Crusades (Wardle in Egan 1998, 284).  Far more commonly than medieval examples, post-medieval jew’s harps are those usually recorded through the PAS.

Terms to use in the description

Jew’s harps tend to have a rounded head which extends notably wider than the two arms which extend from the base of the head and which gradually converge.  The arms often have a lozengiform cross-section.  The separate tongue is held within a rabbet at the centre of the head, on one side.

Medieval jew’s harps

Some medieval examples published in Wardle in Egan (1998, 285; fig. 217) have a distinctive flattened head, or a rounded head far smaller than the characteristic post-medieval instrument.  One example with a trefoil shaped head found in Winchester has had a 14th-century date suggested for it based on a both stylistic and archaeological evidence (Rees et al. 2008, 275).

Post-medieval jew’s harps

Jew’s harps of this period tend to be characteristically of the sort with the large, rounded head.  They tend to be plain, some with some transversely engraved lines, though a few are quite elaborate: SF8969SUR-33D582, SOM-908E25.

Examples

Jew's harp: Late medieval jew's harp (top left, WILT-809C82); post-medieval jew's harp (top right, KENT-79748E); post-medieval jew's harp (bottom, SOM-908E25). Copyright: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum; Kent County Council; Somerset County Council; CC-BY-SA licence)
Jew’s harp: Late medieval jew’s harp (top left, WILT-809C82); post-medieval jew’s harp (top right, KENT-79748E); post-medieval jew’s harp (bottom, SOM-908E25). Copyright: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum; Kent County Council; Somerset County Council; CC-BY-SA licence)

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Key references

Wardle in Egan 1998

Stirrup Terminals

Introduction

In the late early-medieval period, and early in the medieval period, certain stirrups were composites made of two metals: primarily iron, but with copper-alloy fittings.  At the end of the tread-plate, at the stirrup’s base, where it connected to the arms, there was either a connecting or applied copper-alloy ‘stirrup terminal’.

PAS object type to be used

Use STIRRUP

PAS object classification to be used

Add terminal to the Classification field

Terms to use in the description

Solder may be found in the recessed reverse of a stirrup terminal for application (Williams 1997, 1).  Often decoration can be zoomorphic, in the form of a beast’s head.

Date

Ringerike-style decoration on certain examples helps place them in the early-mid 11th century.  Williams (1997, 2) dated other examples slightly later within the 11th century.

Examples

Late early-medieval to medieval stirrup terminals: Trilobate form (top, NMS-58D0B0); zoomorphic form (bottom left, HAMP-21CD7F); openwork crested zoomorphic form (bottom right, SF-1C05C2). Copyright: Norfolk County Council; Hampshire Cultural Trust; Suffolk County Council; CC-BY-SA licence)
Late early-medieval to medieval stirrup terminals: Trilobate form (top, NMS-58D0B0); zoomorphic form (bottom left, HAMP-21CD7F); openwork crested zoomorphic form (bottom right, SF-1C05C2). Copyright: Norfolk County Council; Hampshire Cultural Trust; Suffolk County Council; CC-BY-SA licence)

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Key references

Williams 1997

Needle Holders

Introduction

There is an enigmatic group of objects which look like enormous lace-tags, made of sheet metal with a soldered-on collar near the terminal which is often decorated to resemble the cup of an acorn. They tend to be about 5 mm in diameter at the attachment end, and can feature side loops for attaching a separate cap. There are parallels published in Egan and Pritchard (2002, 384-385; fig. 256). See also the guide to needles.

PAS object type to be used

Use NEEDLE HOLDER

Date

The PAS has recorded needle holders from the early-medieval period onwards, but with a focus on the medieval and post-medieval periods.

Examples

Post-medieval needle holder (LON-8C87D3). Copyright: Museum of London; CC-BY licence)
Post-medieval needle holder (LON-8C87D3). Copyright: Museum of London; CC-BY licence)

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Key references

Egan and Pritchard 2002

Mirrors (2001 guide)

Please note that this guide has not been fundamentally changed from the original print version of the Finds Recording Guide (Geake 2001), written when the database contained just 8,800 non-numismatic records.

Introduction

Mirrors could take the form of a flat, polished metal surface held by a handle (Leahy and Lewis 2018, 110-111); silvered glass as used in the medieval period tended to be held in a protective metal case, and these mirror cases are covered in a separate guide.

PAS object type to be used

Use MIRROR

Date

Mirrors of this manufacture tend to date to the late Iron Age and Roman period; medieval mirrors tended to be cased and often had romantic or religious connotations (Leahy and Lewis 2018, 110).

Iron Age Mirrors

Iron Age mirrors have heavy cast copper-alloy handles but very thin sheet plates which do not survive well.  A handle typology was constructed by Fox (1949, 24-44).  Although this has proved useful over the years as a basic guide, there is no substitute for detailed description, and Fox’s Groups are not helpful enough to merit a place in the classification field.

Roman Mirrors

Fragments of Roman circular or rectangular mirrors can be recognised by their dark grey, nearly black colour, their shiny surface and their decoration of engraved concentric lines and perforations close to the edge.  They are made of speculum, a brittle high-tin bronze.  Their description should cover the reflecting surface and the reverse, and say if there are any original edges present.  Handles were soldered on, and fragments of these should turn up. In addition, lead-alloy frames can also be found.

Examples

Mirrors: Late Iron Age mirror (left, BH-B85CF3); possible speculum Roman mirror (top right, LEIC-E77BF2); Roman lead-alloy mirror frame (bottom right, BH-584656). Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; St. Albans District Council; CC-BY-SA licence)
Mirrors: Late Iron Age mirror (left, BH-B85CF3); possible speculum Roman mirror (top right, LEIC-E77BF2); Roman lead-alloy mirror frame (bottom right, BH-584656). Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; St. Albans District Council; CC-BY-SA licence)

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Key references

Leahy and Lewis 2018