SOM-734469: Post Medieval seal

Rights Holder: Somerset County Council
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Unique ID: SOM-734469

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Treasure case 2017 T662: Disclaimed, returned to finder

Circumstances of discovery: Metal-detecting on pasture land, with few nearby finds of comparable date with the exception of treasure case 2017 T661.

Description: A Post-medieval silver seal matrix. The seal matrix consists of a flat oval swivelling bezel held in situ and still freely rotatable within its frame. The seal is double sided, depicting a bull's head facing left on one face, with five large pellets at the base of its neck, probably a simplified torse, and on the other depicting a hand emerging from a potentially ruffed sleeve cuff, holding three flowers between its thumb and forefinger, with the others extended. Both designs are within a corded oval border, and all detail is engraved into the surface of the metal. The handle is similarly flat and rectangular in cross section, comprising of a plain semi-circular frame which holds the seal, from the apex of which expands an elaborated handle, which terminates in a circular attachment loop with a sub-circular perforation. The handle is shaped and engraved to create flanking scrolled ornament, with a transverse collar demarcating a central "waist".

Dimensions: The bezel of the seal is 10.8mm long, 9.2mm wide and 1.5mm thick. Overall the fob seal measures 21.6mm in length, is 13.3mm wide at the semi-circular frame and 5.8mm wide at the attachment loop, it is 1.3mm thick at the semi-circular frame, tapering in profile to 0.8mm at the apex of the attachment loop. It weighs 1.72g.

Discussion: Such fob seals are not uncommon finds and a number have previously been reported through the treasure process, see for example 2007 T406, with an octagonal bezel and dated to the late 17th or early 18th century, based in part on the detail of the handle (Thornton in Williams 2008). Other examples recorded through the treasure process include 2014T897, dated to the 17th century (Downes 2014), which has an identical frame and handle to that seen on this example, depicting a spread eagle/three flowers on its bezel. 2012T451 (Wooton 2012), whilst not identical in its execution, features the same combination of motifs on its oval bezel (hand with flowers/animal's head); although its handle more closely resembles 2007 T406. 2013T162 (Scott 2013) and 2007 T581 (Bolton 2007) depict the same hand holding three flowers motif on a 17th- early 18th century seals of a different construction.

The piece appears to consist of over 10% precious metal and on the balance of probability will 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.

Wil Partridge

Finds Liaison Officer for Devon and Somerset

August 2017

Subsequent actions

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


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

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 21.6 mm
Width: 13.3 mm
Thickness: 1.5 mm
Weight: 1.72 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 22nd July 2017 - Saturday 22nd July 2017

Personal details

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

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: South West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Somerset (County)
District: Mendip (District)
To be known as: West Bradley

Spatial coordinates

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

Discovery metadata

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

References cited

No references cited so far.

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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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