SWYOR-0089D6: Medieval monumental brass

Rights Holder: West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service
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Unique ID: SWYOR-0089D6

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

A fragment of a probably 14th century monumental brass. Only the head of the figure survives. This fragment is rounded, being the outline of the head, in plan and flat in section. It portrays the upper head of a tonsured and mustache wearing male.

The face is sub-oval, long with projecting cheekbones. Two incised lines in the middle of the forehead represent creases in the skin. The eyes are incised lentoids with a large dot (pupil) at the centre and an line above representing the eyelid. They are realistic with further lines suggesting the eye-socket. Above are dotted incised lines that represent the eyebrows. The nose extends from, and joins with the brows. It is formed from two straight parallel lines, with the tip of the nose formed from a downward facing trefoil shape at the end, joined to the parallel lines only at one side to give a suggestion of three dimensions. The mouth is missing beneath the broken edge of the brass, but a drooping "Saxon" style mustache is visible, and to the right side (as viewed), three curved incised lines may represent a beard or jawline.

The hairstyle is long and wavy and frames the face at least as far as the break. Curved incised lines detail the hair. The man has a fringe which is crescent shaped, longest in the centre of the brow. Short vertical curving lines detail the hair of the fringe. Above is a curved line marking the edge of the tonsure and the hair lines stop at the mark leaving the top of the head undecorated.

The reverse of the brass is undecorated and corroded. A large copper alloy rivet has been crudely fastened through the brass in the centre of the man's forehead, between the bottom of the fringe and the crease lines. It is circular in section and has a narrow rounded head on the front of the brass. On the reverse, the rivet passes through a diamond or lozenge shaped rove.

The rivet suggests that the object was reused or perhaps reattached to the tomb it decorated. According to record ESS-DBC440, reused brasses such as those with a different design on the reverse are referred to as 'palimpsests'.

The brass survives in good condition with an even dark greeny grey patina. The broken edge is patinated, but not worn smooth. Compare ESS-DBC440 which is a less finely depicted head, of a civilian rather than a monk or priest, and SF2542, another head from a monumental brass. An illustration of a similar brass depicting the head of a priest can be seen on the Monumental Brass Society website at http://www.mbs-brasses.co.uk/Brasses%20&%20Slabs.html.

Comparison of this brass to images on the Monumental Brass Society website suggests that the style of hair is indicative of a 14th century date. See http://www.mbs-brasses.co.uk/page67.html.


Research by the finder and his metal detecting club has suggested that:

  • There are no other brasses or remains of brasses in churches near the findspot.
  • The nearest religious house was Bolton Priory which was founded in 1154 by the Augustinian Friars.
  • The priory was wealthy enough to afford brasses for its Abbots of whom there were five in the 14th century: John de Lund, Thomas de Coppeley, Robert Hatton, Robert de Oteley and Robert de Grene.
  • During the dissolution of the monasteries, the lead and internal fittings were removed, but the nave was retained for local worship.
  • There are records of Parlimentarians destroying Clifford family monuments in the parish church, and damaging the church at Bolton Abbey.

However, it has not yet been possible to link the brass to an individual or even a specific church.

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: County / local importance

Class: Monumental Brass

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: MEDIEVAL
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1300
Date to: Circa AD 1400

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 43.41 mm
Width: 50.36 mm
Thickness: 4.03 mm
Weight: 43.43 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 12th May 2012 - Tuesday 7th August 2012

Personal details

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Other reference numbers

Other reference: Reference Number PAS 1923

Materials and construction

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

Spatial metadata

Region: Yorkshire and the Humber (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: North Yorkshire (County)
District: Craven (District)
Parish or ward: Threshfield (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SD9863
Four figure Latitude: 54.06294
Four figure longitude: -2.032049
1:25K map: SD9863
1:10K map: SD96SE
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: SWYOR
Created: 9 years ago
Updated: 9 years ago

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