IOW-871B11: Medieval to Post-Medieval St Barbara Mount

Rights Holder: Isle of Wight Council
CC License:

Rights Holder: Isle of Wight Council
CC License:

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Unique ID: IOW-871B11

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

An almost complete sheet copper alloy St Barbara mount of Medieval to Post-Medieval date, late fifteenth to early sixteenth century date (c. AD 1450 - c. AD 1525). Length: 34.9mm; width; 27.3mm; thickness: 0.4mm. Weight: 3.31g. The shield-shaped mount is cusped and lobed in profile and when complete would have been symmetrical in plan. At the centre of the top there is a small integral attachment lug consisting of a projecting circular hole, the inner diameter of which is 1.1mm. Opposite this lug, at the base, there is part of a similar lug. The front of the mount has a carefully punched depiction of a nimbed (or haloed) draped St Barbara standing beside the tower in which she was imprisoned. She is holding in her left hand a Book of Gospels and clutching a palm branch symbolising her martyrdom. The tower of three levels is surmounted by a cupola. In the background to the right of St Barbara a walled town or a castle is depicted. The whole scene is enclosed by a punched line following the outer profile of the mount and forming a border. The rear face is flat and has numerous near-vertical scratches and minor grooves which may be filing marks. This mount generally has a shiny mid-green patina on both faces. However, the rear face has small blemishes of bronze disease. A similar shield-shaped St Barbara mount has been recorded from Dorking Parish, Surrey. See Portable Antiquities Scheme find: SUR-959317.


The Oxford Dictionary of Saints has the following description. '[St Barbara] was shut up in a tower by her father Dioscorus, so that no man should see her. None the less princes sought her hand in marriage. She became a Christian while her father was away and decided to live as a hermit in a bath-house he had built. Here she made the workman add a third window in honour of the Holy Trinity. In his fury at her becoming a Christian, he nearly killed her, but she was handed over to a judge who condemned her to death. Her father was struck by lightning and died. This was the basis of her patronage of those in danger of sudden death, first by lightning, and then by subsiding mines or cannon-balls. Hence, her patronage of miners and gunners. The first known representation of her is an 8th-century fresco at S. Maria Antiqua, Rome; she is found, often with the equally mythical Margaret of Antioch, on late medieval English screens and stained glass. Her usual emblem is a tower. The painting of her by Jan van Eyck in the museum at Antwerp is probably the most famous representation' (Farmer, D. H. 1978, 28 'The Oxford Dictionary of Saints'. Oxford: Clarendon Press).

Find of note status

This has been noted as an interesting find by the recorder.

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Late
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Subperiod to: Early
Date from: Circa AD 1450
Date to: Circa AD 1525

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 34.9 mm
Width: 27.3 mm
Thickness: 0.4 mm
Weight: 3.31 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Wednesday 21st January 2009

Personal details

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Other reference numbers

Other reference: IOW2009-1-49

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Isle of Wight (Unitary Authority)
District: Isle of Wight (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: Isle of Wight

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: GPS (from the finder)
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Discovery circumstances: Metal detecting rally
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Operations to a depth greater than 0.25m

References cited

Author Publication Year Title Publication Place Publisher Pages Reference
Farmer, D.H. 1978 The Oxford Dictionary of Saints Oxford Oxford University Press 28

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: IOW
Created: 13 years ago
Updated: About one year ago

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