SWYOR-D9A074: Medieval Limoges book fitting

Rights Holder: West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service
CC License:

Image use policy

Our images can be used under a CC BY attribution licence (unless stated otherwise).


Unique ID: SWYOR-D9A074

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

A gilded and enamelled medieval copper-alloy book clasp of Howsam type A.10.1, with Limoges-style enamelling dating it to c.1150-1300 AD. The clasp would have been attached to a strap on a book cover, and would have fitted over a peg on the opposite cover.

The object is sub-rectangular, tapering to a point at the closed end. Terminating the closed end is a narrow projection which is pierced from side to side. In the triangular area at this end of the plate is a hole, now worn into an oval shape. This triangular area is decorated with diagonal grooves which were originally gilded.

The main body of the plate is a square panel. It has a border of small squares delineated by grooves (ladder pattern) which contain gilding. The square panel has enamelled decoration; in the centre is a red dot, surrounded by a dark blue border, within a lozenge shape of light blue enamel. The edge of the lozenge is bare metal. The lozenge is within the square panel which also has a reserved bare metal border. The corners of the square panel are filled with a red dot in the centre of each edge of the lozenge, with a band of light blue enamel around, and then dark blue enamel.

The other end of the plate is a rectangular panel. Two dome-headed copper-alloy rivets attach the backplate behind this area. The front is decorated with longitudinal grooves running from the open end to a transverse band of ladder pattern which runs along the edge of the square panel; these grooves retain gilding. The end of the front plate is broken and probably continued further. The backplate is a plain sheet of copper alloy. It is also as big as the rectangular area of the front plate and seems to be complete. There are traces of gilding on the back of the front plate. The bare metal has a light green patina.

The fine quality of this piece is directly comparable to a number of Limoges-style enamelled pieces which are often associated with religious artefacts: parts of processional crosses, reliquaries, crucifixes and chalices. It is highly likely that this clasp was from a religious book, either a bible, or more likely 'book of hours' or personal prayer book. Another similar Limoges-style book clasp can be seen at HESH-7ACEC5; another Limoges mount, circular but with a similar decorative scheme, is SWYOR-515DF1. They were probably made in Limoges, in the late 12th or 13th century.

A very similar example was recovered from Fountains Abbey, which is believed to be 12th century in date. It, and this example, are published in Howsam (2016).

Find of note status

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

Class: clasp
Sub class: Howsam type A.10

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: MEDIEVAL
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Period to: MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1150
Date to: Circa AD 1300

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 33.33 mm
Width: 16.5 mm
Thickness: 4.23 mm
Weight: 4.9 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 9th October 2010

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Ms Amy Downes
Identified by: Ms Amy Downes

Other reference numbers

Other reference: PAS form number 1278

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Completeness: Incomplete
Surface Treatment: Multiple

Spatial metadata

Region: Yorkshire and the Humber (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: York (Unitary Authority)
District: York (Unitary Authority)
Parish or ward: Fulford (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SE6147
Four figure Latitude: 53.915565
Four figure longitude: -1.072786
1:25K map: SE6147
1:10K map: SE64NW
Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

Similar objects

Find number: HESH-7ACEC5
Object type: BOOK FITTING
Broadperiod: MEDIEVAL
Copper-alloy book clasp of Howsam type A.1.3, with Limoges-style enamelling dating it to c.1150-1300 AD. It is incomplete, comprising a centra…
Workflow: PublishedFind published

Find number: NLM-EFBFB1
Object type: BUCKLE
Broadperiod: MEDIEVAL
An incomplete sub-square partial medieval buckle plate made from copper-alloy sheet. The plate depicts the secular scene of a hunter on horse…
Workflow: PublishedFind published

Find number: NARC-9789B3
Object type: BUCKLE
Broadperiod: MEDIEVAL
A copper-alloy buckle frame from a medieval buckle. The frame is missing its bar and is substantially squashed. The bar was originally offset…
Workflow: Awaiting validationFind awaiting validation

Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: SWYOR
Created: 8 years ago
Updated: 2 months ago

Other formats: this page is available as qrcode json xml geojson pdf rdf representations.