SF-FEB4DB: SF-FEB4DB: Medieval ampulla

Rights Holder: Suffolk County Council
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Unique ID: SF-FEB4DB

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

An incomplete lead medieval ampulla (pilgrim souvenir). It has a roughly circular body, with a long trapezoid neck extending from one end. Originally hollow inside, both faces have now been crushed together. One side of the neck is damaged with a few small pieces missing. The metal is greyish-white in colour and slightly pitted. One face of the body is decorated with the scallop shell design common on Medieval ampulla, the other side with a raised crowned reversed letter S.

The scallop shell was an emblem associated with St James the Greater and one that was so popular from the 11th century onwards that it eventually became a generic emblem for the act of pilgrimage itself (Spencer, 1998, 41). Canterbury first adopted the design as its emblem on earlier ampullae, but it was later used at a number of other shrines too (ibid.). The letter S may possibly relate to Our Lady of Sudbury, a minor cult (Spencer 1971, 64). Spencer (1998, 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.

Length: 54.44mm, width: 27.63mm, thickness: 5.50mm, weight: 41.05g

Class: Spencer Type II
Inscription: S, retrograde

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 1350

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 54.44 mm
Width: 27.63 mm
Thickness: 5.5 mm
Weight: 41.05 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Friday 1st May 2015

Personal details

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Materials and construction

Primary material: Lead
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: Eastern (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Suffolk (County)
District: Suffolk Coastal (District)
To be known as: Hasketon

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: Generated from computer mapping software
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

Author Publication Year Title Publication Place Publisher Pages Reference
Spencer, B. 1971 A Scallop-Shell Ampulla from Caistor and Comparable Pilgrim Souvenirs Lincoln Lincolnshire Local Hisatory Society
Spencer, B. 1998 Pilgrim Souvenirs and Secular Badges London Museum of London

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: SF
Created: 7 years ago
Updated: 5 years ago

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