DUR-04003E: DUR-04003E

Rights Holder: Durham County Council
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Unique ID: DUR-04003E

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

A complete copper alloy figurine, depicting an apostle holding a gospel, dating to the late Medieval or most probably the early post-Medieval period, c. AD 1400-1650.

Description: The front of the figurine depicts a standing figure, draped in robes with long trailing sleeves covering the entirety of the body with the exception of the front of the feet and the hands. The draped robes extend around the sides of the figurine. The hands are clasped, with the left hand being folded over the right. A book (or gospel) is held in the crook of the left arm. The head is covered with a band tied around it and knotted over the right ear. One end of the trailing band extends down the right shoulder and onto the chest, whilst the other is wrapped around the left shoulder. The face is uncovered and shoulder length hair extends from beneath the head covering.

With the notable exception of the rear of the head, the back of the figurine is flat and undecorated. A small fixing hole is visible close to the base of the figurine; on the front this hole pierces the robes covering the right leg. A secondary fixing is visible on the upper portion of the figurine, with the lead still in place, indicating that it was attached to a larger object.

The figurine has an overall mid brown patina, with traces of gilding visible in places (particularly in the folds of the robes), and small areas of actives green copper corrosion visible to the rear of the clasped hands and around the neck. The figurine is in generally good condition ; however, the face of the figure is extensively damaged, with large lateral scratches or gouges (running across the face in a downward trajectory from right to left) having removed all facial features, with the exception of the left eye.

The figurine measures 125.91mm in length, 30.05mm wide and is 20.21mm thick. It weighs 192g .

Dicussion: The figurine is likely to be a representation of St John or perhaps another apostle, due to the gospel that is held under the left arm. The figurine would have been fixed to an object associated to church rituals, possibly a cross or crozier, or other staff of office. It is tempting to associate the damage of the face of the figurine to the Reformation or later Puritan reforms; however, this is purely conjectural and the damage may have a more prosaic explanation.

The style and religious form of the figurine would tend to suggest that it predates major protestant reform in England, and on that basis it is certainly no earlier than the late medieval period, and probably dates from the early post-medieval period. However, given the pockets of Catholicism that survived in the north of England, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the figure could date to as late as the mid 17th century.

Similar examples recorded on the PAS database include CAMHER-ACC563, SOM-A6D7E7, and SF-E018D1, the latter notable as it also features a plain undecorated rear.

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: POST MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Late
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Subperiod to: Early
Date from: Circa AD 1400
Date to: Circa AD 1650

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 125.91 mm
Width: 30.05 mm
Thickness: 20.21 mm
Weight: 192 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Thursday 12th January 2017

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Benjamin Westwood
Identified by: Mr Benjamin Westwood

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Completeness: Complete
Surface Treatment: Gilded

Spatial metadata

Region: North East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: County Durham (Unitary Authority)
District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)
Parish or ward: LCPs of Stanhope, Wolsingham and Tow Law (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: NZ1333
Four figure Latitude: 54.69187569
Four figure longitude: -1.79984284
1:25K map: NZ1333
1:10K map: NZ13SW
Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Operations to a depth greater than 0.25m

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: DUR
Created: About one year ago
Updated: About one month ago

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