SOM-77474D: Post Medieval bouy from a bosuns whistle

Rights Holder: Somerset County Council
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Unique ID: SOM-77474D

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Treasure case 2017 T629: Disclaimed, returned to finder

Description: Silver gilt 'body' or 'buoy' from a late 16th to 17th century 'bosun's' whistle. The buoy consists of a hollow oval shape formed of two elongated hemi-spheres with the join at the centre covered in an applied rib. The rib has a plain raised base on which sits a moulded chain design running around the circumference. At one point this is interrupted by a large circular sounding hole. Soldered to the body to one side of the hole, and again interrupting the central rib, is a projecting rectangular bar supported below by an incomplete loop. The top of the bar is rough indicating where it was linked to the rest of the whistle.

The outer ends of each hemisphere are decorated with applied wires making an eight petaled rose with a central ring on which sits a pellet. Each petal has a central indent on the outer side.

There is a slight indent to one side but it is otherwise complete and the gilding remains extensive with only small rubbed areas on high points where the original silver shows through.


The buoy is 19.8mm long by 15.1mm in diameter including the rib and 18.9mm wide inclusng the projection; it weighs 2.19g.

Discussion: Several buoy with identical decoration have been recorded through the Treasure process including examples still attached to whistles such as 2008 T403 (Downes 2008) and 2013 T746 (Hinds 2013). Another similar whistle made of lead / tin alloy in the collections of the Museum of London (96.24/2) is illustrated in Egan (2005, 124, fig.118a) were a late 16th to 17th century date is suggested for a similar example (ibid no.594). Silver whistles were used as badges of office and for giving signals at sea. This example is unusually finely decorated on the central rib and most were not gilded.

The piece appears to consist of over 10% precious metal and be over 300 years old at the time of finding and as such qualifies as potential Treasure under the stipulations of the Treasure Act 1996.

Laura Burnett

Finds Liaison Officer for Somerset and Devon

October 2017

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder after being disclaimed as Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2017T629


Broad period: POST MEDIEVAL
Period from: POST MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1575
Date to: Circa AD 1700

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 19.8 mm
Width: 18.9 mm
Weight: 2.19 g
Diameter: 15.1 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 2nd July 2017 - Sunday 2nd July 2017

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Ms Laura Burnett
Identified by: Ms Laura Burnett

Other reference numbers

Other reference: SCC receipt 19226
Treasure case number: 2017T629

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Completeness: Fragment
Surface Treatment: Gilded

Spatial metadata

Region: South West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Somerset (County)
District: Sedgemoor (District)
To be known as: East Brent CP

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Grassland, Heathland

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: SOM
Created: About one year ago
Updated: About one year ago

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