SOM-C60D70: Medieval ampulla

Rights Holder: Somerset County Council
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AMPULLA

Unique ID: SOM-C60D70

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

Medieval incomplete and damaged lead-alloy pilgrim's ampulla. It has a rounded base from which a rectangular, neck protrudes, expanding slightly in width to the top. The top of the neck is torn across with an irregular edge. There are integral suspension loops on either side at the junction of the neck and body, one squashed inwards and casting lines running down each side and around the base. The surfaces are very scratched and indented but traces of raised line designs remain. On one face is probably a crown, the details of which are unclear, and on the other a flower or four leaf motif with four large pointed oval leaves each bisected by a midline running from the central pellet to the outer point and angled lines between the midline and the edges of the leaf. A further line runs from the centre towards the outer edge between the right hand and upper leaves. The ampulla measures 55.2mm by 32.4mm by 9.6mm and weighs 76.0g.

Ampulla were designed to contain a draught of relic water, to be taken as cures or worn by suspension through the loops as a talisman (Spencer, 1998: 203). Spencer (ibid: 3) suggests that ampulla were popular in England from the second half of the 12th century until the early 14th century, when they were largely replaced by badges as the most popular type of pilgrimage momento. This design, with a variation in the details of the flower or quatrefoil on the back and crown on the front, is known from Salisbury. Spencer (1990:61, no.140-142) illustrates three examples and discusses others that are known from across the country. The presence of waster for this design at Salisbury suggest some may have been made there. As this example is a slight variation it may also be from Salisbury or from a different centre as ampullas had a limited range of motifs and similar designs were used in different places. SOM-3D32A7 from Milverton, Somerset, on this database is also similar.

The torn neck may suggest it was deliberately opened and the water poured out for some use.

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 1350

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 55.2 mm
Width: 32.4 mm
Thickness: 9.6 mm
Weight: 76 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Wednesday 1st October 2014 - Monday 12th January 2015

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mrs Vicky Lemmens
Identified by: Mrs Vicky Lemmens
Secondary identifier: Ms Laura Burnett

Other reference numbers

Other reference: SCC receipt 17043

Materials and construction

Primary material: Lead
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: South West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Somerset (County)
District: South Somerset (District)
To be known as: Milbourne Port

Spatial coordinates


Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

References cited

Similar objects

Find number: SOM-3D32A7
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Medieval incomplete and damaged lead-alloy pilgrim's ampulla. It has a rounded base from which a rectangular, neck protrudes, expanding in wi…
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An incomplete Medieval (1150-1500) lead pilgrim's ampulla, missing both its lug handles. It measures 48.30x32.73x6.58mm and weighs 21.96g. …
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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: SOM
Created: 4 years ago
Updated: 4 years ago

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