SOM-E63B28: Post medieval toy whistle

Rights Holder: Somerset County Council
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Unique ID: SOM-E63B28

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

An incomplete post medieval lead toy probably a whistle dating to the period c. AD 1600 - 1800. The toy commences in an old break and is cylindrical with a hollow circular cross sectioned interior and a hexagonal external cross-section. The internal diameter of the toy is 9.07mm tapering to 3.88mm at the opposite end. The toy exhibits a series of irregular raised mouldings running down the sides of the body, probably a decorative pattern which is now unclear, there appears to be curved foliate designs near the break. There is a pronounced, tidied, casting seam along both sides of the body with triangular projections at several points. The largest two appear deliberate,one is solid and the other has an indented centre, and may have been handles. Smaller knops spaced evenly along the seam may be part of the casting process or deliberate. The complete end terminates in a pronounced moulded ring and is closed apart from a circular hole in the centre, 3.9mm in diameter. The body is decorated along its length on both sides with a moulded foliate desing in relief. The aperture at closed end and lack of vent hole suggests that the toy is more likely to be a whistle rather than a cannon.

The toy measures 60.08mm in length, 22.98mm maximum width, 14.27mm minimum width, is 17.46mm thick and weighs 36.22g.

A lead cannon of similar design with moulded decoration but with a vent hole and closed end is illustration in Forsyth & Egan, 2005, p. 81, fig. 18.

It is not certain whether lead alloy whistles were nautical boatswain's (bosun) whistles (Redknap, M. 'Bosuns whistles' in Gardiner and Allen 2005), toys, musical instruments, pilgrim souvenirs or all of these. As they were a symbol of status, base metal boatswain's whistles were seen as impractical (Spencer, 1998, 107). This has led to their interpretation as toys or pilgrim souvenirs. Similar artefacts recorded on the database as whistles include: SUR-1C3FB0 & SWYOR-2B9BF7.


This artefact was found in association with SOM-E6DA83, but does not appear to be part of the same object.

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: POST MEDIEVAL
Period from: POST MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1500
Date to: Circa AD 1800

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 60.08 mm
Width: 22.98 mm
Thickness: 17.46 mm
Weight: 36.22 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 1st March 2015 - Saturday 30th May 2015

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Miss Julie Shoemark
Identified by: Miss Julie Shoemark
Secondary identifier: Ms Laura Burnett

Other reference numbers

Other reference: SCC receipt 17093

Materials and construction

Primary material: Lead
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: South West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Somerset (County)
District: Taunton Deane (District)
Parish or ward: Thornfalcon (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: ST2723
Four figure Latitude: 51.00173911
Four figure longitude: -3.04173116
1:25K map: ST2723
1:10K map: ST22SE
Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

References cited

Author Publication Year Title Publication Place Publisher Pages Reference
Forsyth, H. and Egan, G. 2005 Toys, Trifles and Trinkets: Base Metal Miniatures from London 1200 to 1800 London Unicorn Press Ltd
Gardiner, J. and Allen, M.J. 2005 Before the Mast: Life and Death Aboard the Mary Rose Portsmouth The Mary Rose Trust Ltd.
Spencer, B. 1998 Pilgrim Souvenirs and Secular Badges London Medieval Finds from Excavations in London 7

Similar objects

Find number: SWYOR-2B9BF7
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An incomplete post medieval lead toy dating to the period c.AD 1600-1800, probably a fragment from a toy whistle. The object is cylindrical, …
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Find number: SF-80790B
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An incomplete cast lead-alloy toy whistle dating to the Post-Medieval period, c. 1550-1800. It is broadly cylindrical, with a facetted outer …
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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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