WAW-083E03: Medieval: Rotary key (locking)

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
CC License:


Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
CC License:

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
CC License:

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KEY (LOCKING)

Unique ID: WAW-083E03

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

A hand made iron rotary key of probable medieval date (AD 1150 - AD 1400).

The key is irregular in plan and cross section. Being made out of iron, it was probably forged. The key can be described in several sections: The bow or handle, shank and bit.

The bow consists of a vertical oval, with a circular cross section. It is 51.26 mm tall and 40.97 mm wide. The shank is attached to the bow at the mid point of the right hand side. On the inside edge of the loop, next to where the shank attached, a V-shaped protrusion is present, pointing inwards.

The shank consists of an rod, rectangular in plan and circular in cross section. It is 113.82 mm long and has a diameter of 10.17 mm. The shank projects 11.53 mm past the end of the bit. Two collars or raised ribs are present, one prior to the bit and one at the end of the shank.

The bit is rectangular in plan and cross section. It extends below the shank 26.93 mm and is 25.48 mm wide and 8.00 mm thick. The wards appear to surround a central opening, the clefts of which appear to be in a capital I shape with horizontals across the top and bottom. Two further clefts are present at the central point on both edges.

The key is a dark reddish brown colour and has an even patina. The patina however, is suffering from a degree of lamination, which means it can be easily flaked off from the surface, revealing bare metal underneath. Advice should be sought from an experienced Artefacts Conservator to prevent any further deterioration from occurring and to stablise the artefact.

The key measures 154.07 mm in length, 10.04 mm wide and is 51.26 mm tall. It weighs 74.3 grams.

A direct parallel for this key has not been found due to the style of the handle. However a number of very similar rotary keys are shown in G. Egan's 'Medieval Households' pages 111-119. From the size of the key and the presence of a solid shank it is likely that the key would have been used to lock a door rather than a casket or chest. Chest locks tend to have a hollow shank and are significantly smaller (ibid: 111). The keys illustrated in this volume are all dated from the late 12th - to late 14th centuries (AD 1150 - AD1400). Therefore a similar date is suggested here for this example.

Reference:

Egan, G. Security Equipment in Egan 1998

Egan, G. 1998 The Medieval Household Daily Living c.1150-c.1450. Medieval finds from Excavations in London 6. London. Museum of London / The Stationery Office.

Class: rotary

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder

Chronology

Broad period: MEDIEVAL
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Period to: MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1150
Date to: Circa AD 1400

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 154.07 mm
Height: 51.26 mm
Width: 10.04 mm
Weight: 74.3 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 31st July 2010

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Miss Teresa Gilmore
Identified by: Miss Teresa Gilmore

Materials and construction

Primary material: Iron
Manufacture method: Hand made
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: West Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Staffordshire (County)
District: Staffordshire Moorlands (District)
Parish or ward: Ilam (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SK1252
Four figure Latitude: 53.06511
Four figure longitude: -1.822377
1:25K map: SK1252
1:10K map: SK15SW
Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: WAW
Created: 8 years ago
Updated: 6 years ago

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