BERK-2A91CA: Medieval seal Matrix: Gold seal matrix

Rights Holder: Oxfordshire County Council
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Unique ID: BERK-2A91CA

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

A complete gold medieval seal matrix of 13th century date and in exceptional condition. The seal matrix is oval in plan with an applied gold spine and suspension loop on the reverse. In the centre of the front of the matrix is an oval dark green jasper intaglio, intricately engraved to depict a female in profile. The female wears a long veil about her head with either hair, or possibly pearls, visible above the forehead. The matrix has a personal legend in Latin around the outer edge beginning with a six-pointed star and reads '*SIGILVM : SECRETI : hEN :', translated as the 'Secret seal of Hen'. The 'h' is the only lower case letter in the inscription.

The seal matrix is of the highest quality and is likely to have belonged to someone of considerable wealth. Professor Martin Henig of the University of Oxford comments "the intaglio is made from green jasper; it is a contemporary product and not a reused Roman gem; the gem was probably carved in either Paris or London. The subject of the intaglio is a veiled female, the style probably imitating Hellenistic depictions of Ptolemaic queens, similar to an example from Hereford (Henig 2008:)". The identity of the owner of the matrix is uncertain although 'Hen' is often assumed to be an abbreviation of the name Henry (or Henrici) rather than the female name Henrietta.


Due to this object containing more than 10% precious metal in weight and being over 300 years old it qualifies as Treasure under the stipulations of the Act.

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: National importance

Inscription: SIGILVM : SECRETI : hEN :

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: FLO
Subsequent action after recording: Submitted for consideration as Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2015T988


Broad period: MEDIEVAL
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Period to: MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1154
Date to: Circa AD 1300

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 18.7 mm
Width: 16.3 mm
Thickness: 4.8 mm
Weight: 4.3 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Tuesday 1st December 2015

Personal details

Recorded by: Miss Anni Byard
Identified by: Miss Anni Byard

Other reference numbers

Other reference: OXPAS2015.400
Treasure case number: 2015T988

Materials and construction

Primary material: Gold
Secondary material: Stone
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Oxfordshire (County)
District: Cherwell (District)
Parish or ward: Epwell (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SP3541
Four figure Latitude: 52.06627305
Four figure longitude: -1.49084357
1:25K map: SP3541
1:10K map: SP34SE
Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: FLO
General landuse: Grassland, Heathland

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: BERK
Created: 3 years ago
Updated: 11 months ago

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