KENT-91B046: Silver vervel

Rights Holder: Kent County Council
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Unique ID: KENT-91B046

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

A complete silver post-medieval heraldic vervel (hawking ring), dating to the late 16th-17th century AD. Lewis and Richardson Type C.i.

Description: The vervel comprises a silver ring with attached shield shaped heraldic plate. The plate is decorated with an incised wyvern below a radiate crown. The vervel ring has the inscription 'E: of Mountgomery '. Save for some minor damage/folding of the shield the vervel remains in good condition.

Measurements: 9.35mm long, 8.84mm wide, 8.49mm high and 1.04g in weight.

Discussion: Vervels were used in falconry to attach a raptor's leather jesses to a leash, which, held in the hand, enabled the bird to be flown in short distance flight. The leash could also be used to fix the bird to its block or perch. As is the case in this instance vervels were usually inscribed or emblazoned to enable the bird to be identified with its owner. Falconry enjoyed great popularity among the Tudors and Stuarts, with nobility and gentry, before declining towards the end of the 17th Century with the advent of better firearms for hunting, land enclosures and changing tastes.

The decoration on the shield and the inscription allow for several possible associations with historic figures. One is royal favourite Philipp Herbert (1584-1650), fourth Earl of Pembroke (from 1630) and, importantly, Earl of Montgomery from 1605. In that year, he was also created Baron Herbert of Shurland – Shurland House (HE:1015681), the contemporary parkland originally belonging to the Great House associated with this title being the location of the find. The heraldic crest of several members of the Herbert family was A wyvern, wings elevated vert, holding in the mouth a sinister hand couped at the wrist gu. (Burke,1884: 480) which seems a close match to the representation on the shield.

Another possible association is with Edward Herbert (1583-1648), 1st Baron Herbert of Cherbury and owner of Montgomery Castle in Wales.

Similar vervels have previously been reported as treasure, such as DUR-775EF0 (2017-T329), SUR-B63222 (2018T695) and SUSS-D17951 (2017T10). Two other vervels with this crest, WILT-E0B23A (2016 T284) and WILT-B08B32 (2012 T670), were found in close proximity to one another in Wiltshire and are also thought associated with the Earls of Pembroke.

Conclusion: It is therefore clear that this object likely dates to before 1719 and as the object is made of more than 10% precious metals, it constitutes potential Treasure under the stipulations of The Treasure Act 1996.

Sub class: type C.i
Inscription: E: of Mountgomery

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2020T989


Broad period: POST MEDIEVAL
Period from: POST MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1583
Date to: Circa AD 1648

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 9.35 mm
Height: 8.49 mm
Width: 8.84 mm
Weight: 1.04 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 22nd September 2019

Personal details

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Other reference numbers

Treasure case number: 2020T989

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Manufacture method: Cast
Decoration style: Zoomorphic
Completeness: Complete
Surface Treatment: Incised or engraved or chased

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Kent (County)
District: Swale (District)
To be known as: Eastchurch

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: Generated from computer mapping software
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

References cited

Author Publication Year Title Publication Place Publisher Pages Reference
John Burke 1832 A General and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire London H. Colburn and R. Bentley
Lewis, M. and Richardson, I. 2019 Inscribed Vervels: A corpus and discussion of late medieval and Renaissance hawking rings found in Britain Oxford British Archaeological Reports

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: KENT
Created: About one year ago
Updated: 10 months ago

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