HESH-4E1ABA: Post Medieval: Thimble

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
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Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
CC License:

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
CC License:

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
CC License:

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Unique ID: HESH-4E1ABA

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Specialist Treasure Report for H.M. Coroner:

2017-T580: Silver post medieval (17th century) thimble from Bridgnorth - South, Shropshire

HM Coroner: Mr. Ellery

District: Shropshire

Date: Post Medieval - 17th Century

Circumstances of discovery: Whilst searching with a metal detector


A composite thimble formed of rolled sheet silver and distorted by movement within the plough soil. The dome was originally made separately and soldered into place. There is no rolled rim on the lower edge of the thimble; instead it rises with near vertical sides which taper towards the dome The lower part of the thimble is decorated with a broad plain band which is inscribed with a motto and bordered above and below by circumferential grooves. The inscription reads: FEARE GOD in block capitals with distinct angular serifs. The elements of the inscription are separated by small saltire crosses and the marks of the graver are clearly visible. Above this banded inscription are three rectangular panels of lattice grid through which passes an inverted V shaped band forming a zig-zag pattern. The lattice if formed using a square shaped punch. The dome of the thimble is similarly decorated with the same punch although the design is arranged in two double rows arranged around the external edge with a single square punch at the mid-point. The inside of the thimble is plain and polished - with a punched makers mark on one edge being a capital R within a square shaped cartouche. The external faces are well preserved with little damage through abrasion or corrosion; the thimble has been crushed by movement within the soil and both the original construction seams (vertical and circumferential) have split open.


Maximum height 27.5mm; width 15.8mm; Length: 12.8mm; external diameter across dome 14.1mm; thickness of sheet 1.2mm; weight 6.24 grams.

Metal Content:

To judge from its colour and weight and visual comparison with other dated artefacts of the period I believe that he precious metal content / silver is well in excess of the 10% treasure threshold


The thimble can be dated to the 17th century on the basis of style, spelling and the form of the seriffed capital letters, a form popular in the 1650s. The decorative design is paralleled with examples from Tharston and Hapton, Norfolk (Barch 2014) and Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire (Cassidy: 2011) The motto can be paralleled against other later 17th century silver artefacts including thimbles (McLean, 2007 and Marsden 2014) and posy rings (Evans 1931 and Williams 2016). It is also noted that: "thimbles with waffle-shaped indentations and religious mottoes are typical of the Commonwealth period (AD 1649-1660). Small objects such as rings and thimbles often bore improving mottoes such as 'Feare God', 'Labour is profitable' or as this example has 'Worcke is profitable' Rachel Church: Curator Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics and Glass Department Victoria and Albert Museum (referenced within Bolton, 2011). The style of lettering, being Roman capitals and the spelling are typical of the 17th century. Dora Thornton has noted that silver thimbles, increasingly used by nobility and gentry, were often donated by women on the Parliamentary side to be melted down during the Civil War (2006: 162-165). Thimbles of this date, although imported from Holland into England in large numbers (145,000 in one year), are now rare. (Holmes, 1976, p.15, fig.6d)

Treasure Statement:

This find was over 300 years old at the time of finding and composed of more than 10% precious metal, and therefore should be considered Treasure under the terms of the Treasure Act 1996


Bolton, A (2011) WAW-764970: A post medieval thimble from Bidford on Avon, Warwickshire

Web page available at: https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/434682

Cassidy, J (2011) NARC-A80562: A Post Medieval Thimble from Cannons Ashby, Northamptonshire

Web page available at: https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/458311

Darch, E (2014) NMS-D9DA56: A Post Medieval Thimble from Tharsdon and Hapton, Norfolk

Web page available at: https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/652823

Evans, J. (1931): English Posies and Posy Rings. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Holmes, E. (1976): Thimbles Dublin: Gill & MacMillan

Marsden, K (2014) ESS-723482: A Post medieval silver thimble from South Colchester, Essex.

Web page available at: https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/607092

McLean, L (2007) ESS-6EC030: A Post medieval silver thimble from Kelvedon, Essex.

Web page available at: https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/191678

Thornton, D (2006) "Thimbles " in Treasure Annual Report 2005-6 pp162-165 DCMS: London

Williams, D (2016) SUR-9A8577: A Post medieval finger ring from Charlwood, Surrey

Web page available at: https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/798820


Peter Reavill Finds Liaison Officer: Portable Antiquities Scheme

Inscription: FEARE GOD

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: North Gate Museum
Subsequent action after recording: Donated to museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2017T580


Broad period: POST MEDIEVAL
Subperiod from: Early
Period from: POST MEDIEVAL
Subperiod to: Early
Date from: Circa AD 1600
Date to: Circa AD 1700

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 12.8 mm
Height: 27.5 mm
Width: 15.8 mm
Thickness: 1.2 mm
Weight: 6.24 g
Diameter: 14.1 mm

Personal details

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Other reference numbers

Other reference: Hereford Museum Entry Form: HFDMG: 3292
Treasure case number: 2017T580

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: West Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: Bridgnorth - South

Spatial coordinates

Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: North Gate Museum

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: HESH
Created: 4 years ago
Updated: About one year ago

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