WMID-BF5247: Medieval seal matrix (front, reverse, seal image)

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
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Unique ID: WMID-BF5247

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

An incomplete medieval lead alloy personal seal matrix. The seal is broadly pointed oval (vessica) shaped in profile, although one of the pointed terminals is missing. The front of the seal matrix has a central motif and an inscription running around the perimeter, as is common with medieval seal matrices (see Tonnochy, 1952, p.xxv). The central motif is damaged, but appears to be a floriated cross. The motif is set within a pointed oval shaped groove, around which there is an inscription. An (incomplete) cross of wedges at the damaged point of the seal matrix identifies the start of the inscription, which reads: "+S' WI( ) FIL . L( )TICIE" (reversed). Tonnochy (1952, p. xxvi) states that where the legend indicates its owner, the usual formula is the word sigillum or secretum followed by the name and designation of the owner in the genitive case. He adds that restrictions of space led to abbreviations, with sigillum often abbreviated to "S", and the cutting off of final letters. This is usually indicated by the presence of abbreviation marks, such as the apostrophe. The reverse of the seal matrix described in this record has a raised pointed oval shaped decoration, within which is a raised design of two fleurs-de-lys, one pointing towards each of the terminals of the oval. There is a small stub at the broken terminal which is likely to be the remains of a suspension loop (see Tonichy, 1952, p.xxiv). The seal matrix has a light brown patina. It has a maximum dimension of 19.9mm wide, 30.3mm long and it weighs 11.71g. The body of the seal (not including a broken stub of a suspension loop) is 3.4mm thick. For classification purposes, Tonnochy (1952, p.xvi) states that, "where no indication is given by the legend of an ecclesiastical or monstic office, such seals [with religious motifs] may be regarded as personal." He adds that whilst previously confined to the higher ranks of the church and state, the usage of seals became more general from the 11th century, and by the end of the thirteenth century tradesmen and peasants possessed them - to establish the genuineness of a document and secure closed letters (1952, p.xli & lxi). Cherry (1997, p128) states that in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries many seals were produced in lead or copper alloy which had simple devices on them such as stars, fleurs-de-lys or religious subjects, and the owners names. The seal matrix described in this record is likely to date from this period.

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: MEDIEVAL
Period from: MEDIEVAL

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 30.4 mm
Width: 19.9 mm
Thickness: 3.4 mm
Weight: 11.71 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Tuesday 1st January 2008

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Duncan Slarke
Identified by: Mr Duncan Slarke
Secondary identifier: Mr Jim Wall

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: West Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Staffordshire (County)
District: Lichfield (District)
Parish or ward: Drayton Bassett (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SK1800
Four figure Latitude: 52.597498
Four figure longitude: -1.735691
1:25K map: SK1800
1:10K map: SK10SE
Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

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Audit data

Recording Institution: WMID
Created: 11 years ago
Updated: 6 years ago

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