LANCUM-DB9DC5: Cast lead alloy inscribed spindle whorl

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Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Cast lead-alloy spindle whorl dating from the medieval period, that is c. 12th-13th century. The whorl is circular and of biconical shape, with a central circular perforation for the spindle. The whorl is decorated on both obverse and reverse. The reverse is decorated with a six-pointed star with hatching on the inside of the spikes and there are three small circlets between each point. The obverse is inscribed with large bold capitals starting after the three small pellets, reading hYC(?M).AD.DAWBE. Laura Burnett (Somerset FLO), Mary Siraut and Dr Naomi Payne suggest that while the first word is least clear, the second resembles the Medieval Latin word 'DAWBITURA' which means to whiten or bleach. It is used for cloth and also for whitewashing and plastering (hence daub) and also for turning things to silver (blanching) and it also has more symbolic meanings of cleansing and whitewashing and dressing in white (by extension the Cistercians). They therefore suggest that the spindle whorl could have been used for cloth that is to be whitened or bleached cloth (presumably a finer cloth). However, it could also be a pun on a more symbolic phase about whitening/cleansing or hoping that the whorl would help turn wool into cloth of silver.

Professor Elisabeth Okasha (University College Cork) analysed the spindle whorld sends the following report:

Description: the spindle whorl is made of lead and is complete. The back of the whorl is decorated with geometric-type patterns and the face contains the text. The text is set in relief lettering right around the whorl, inside a relief margin, and with the letters facing inwards. The text is primary, that is, the whorl was intended from inception to contain a text

Measurements: the whorl is 3 cm in diameter and c 1-2 mm in thickness. The diameter of the central hole is 1 cm. The maximum letter height is c 5 mm Text: the text is legible. It is largely in seriffed capitals with two instances of lower-case D. One instance of A has a cross-bar indicated, while the other does not. The E is rounded. There are three dots together which indicate the start of the text and three further single dots within the text. The letters are spaced so that the text completely fills the space available. The text is transliterated into capitals using the following system of transliteration: A indicates a legible letter A A indicates a damaged letter A [A] indicates a damaged letter, probably A : indicates a deliberate dot or dots in the text [:] indicates a probable dot in the text Reading: : [R] Y C M : A D [:] D A : W B E that is, with word-division added, : [r]yc mad dawbe '[R]yc made (this) dawbe' Discussion: the text is in Middle English and contains a maker formula, a frequent type of text on early medieval inscribed artefacts. [R]yc is presumably a shortened form of Richard, but this needs checking. I am assuming that dawbe (or, just possibly awbe) is a word for a spindle-whorl, but this also needs checking. I think that the three separate, single dots are decorative, but it is interesting that the two on either side of the second vertical of the M form a cross-shape. An interesting point seems to me the care clearly taken to produce this very every-day (and not especially valuable) object. Date: on the basis of the language and script, especially the use of W and the rounded form of E, this text (and hence the whorl itself) seems likely to be 12th or 13th century in date.

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Middle
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Subperiod to: Late
Period to: MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1100
Date to: Circa AD 1300

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Height: 8 mm
Weight: 22.81 g
Diameter: 29.5 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 2nd June 2012

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Dr Dot Boughton
Identified by: Ms Laura Burnett
Secondary identifier: Dr Elisabeth Okasha

Materials and construction

Primary material: Lead Alloy
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: North West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Lancashire (County)
District: Ribble Valley (District)
To be known as: Great Mitton

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: Centred on village (which isn't a parish)
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Character undetermined

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: LANCUM
Created: 6 years ago
Updated: 2 years ago

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