WAW-7B87F4: Medieval book mount (plan, profile and reverse).

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
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Unique ID: WAW-7B87F4

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

A copper alloy book clasp, probably of Howsam type A.9.1. It is cast in one piece, but composed of three elements; a rectangular attachment end, an oval dome and a sub-triangular protrusion. The front of the rectangular attachment end has a raised edge on three sides; the fourth side is flat, allowing the strap to lie flat on this portion of the clasp. There is a central rivet hole along this edge to fix the strap in place.

Integral to the opposite edge is the second element, the oval dome. This is only slightly domed, and has a central rivet hole. This hole would allow a peg fixed to the other cover of the book to be inserted, to hold the strap in place and keep the book closed.

The third element is integral to the opposite edge of the dome from the rectangular attachment end, and is a slender sub-triangular protrusion with rounded edges. The upper surface is decorated with three wide ribs. The terminal has a circular hole through from side to side, probably to take a cord to help in pulling the clasp from the peg to open the book.

The reverse of the clasp is undecorated and is flat. The surface of the clasp has a well developed mid to dark green patina. It measures 52.79mm long, 19.07mm wide and 6.25mm thick. It weighs 19.5g.

The clasp would have been used in conjunction with leather straps to keep books closed when not in use. Egan (1998) illustrates similar clasps, for example No. 925, and comments that this clasp dates from the late 14th to early 15th century. Ottaway and Rogers (2002) illustrate similar sized clasps, Nos. 15236 and 14641 in particular, and these were found in late 14th to 15th century contexts. Ottaway and Rogers comment that these types of mounts are found on ecclesiastical and secular sites (2002, 2937) but these types may be more associated with books related to ecclesiastical business (2002, 2939) even when discovered on secular sites.

This example conforms to Howsam type A.9.1 except that the perforation runs all the way through the central element. It is odd in that the raised edge of the attachment end is on the front, and it may be missing an upper plate made from thin sheet. Such a plate is normally attached to the back, not the front, of an otherwise hollow attachment end (but see NMS-369AB8 for a similar construction).

The 'hollow plate' type of book clasp, buckle or strap-end is generally dated to the very end of the 14th century or the 15th century, c. 1390-1500 AD.

Class: clasp
Sub class: Howsam type A.9.1

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: MEDIEVAL
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Period to: MEDIEVAL
Date from: Exactly AD 1390
Date to: Circa AD 1500

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 52.79 mm
Width: 19.07 mm
Thickness: 6.25 mm
Weight: 19.5 g

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Ms Angie Bolton
Identified by: Ms Angie Bolton

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: West Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Worcestershire (County)
District: Wychavon (District)
Parish or ward: Evesham (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SP0345
Four figure Latitude: 52.103326
Four figure longitude: -1.957615
1:25K map: SP0345
1:10K map: SP04NW
Grid reference source: Centred on parish
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: WAW
Created: 11 years ago
Updated: 3 months ago

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