NMGW-D87FB1: Post-Medieval seal matrix

Rights Holder: National Museum Wales
CC License: All Rights Reserved

Rights Holder: National Museum Wales
CC License: All Rights Reserved

Rights Holder: National Museum Wales
CC License: All Rights Reserved

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Unique ID: NMGW-D87FB1

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Post-Medieval silver pedestal type or fob seal matrix.

The face is oval with a tapering fluted handle, crowned with a circular suspension loop. The engraved motif on the face comprises a heart surmounted by a series of radiating rays. The heart is pierced with a single flighted arrow pointing right (left in wax impression). Beneath the heart are a pair of clasped hands with stylised cuffs above a bed of three flowers. The flowers are comprised of five stamped petals and a stem. The motif is set within a beaded border, following the outline of the die face.

The handle is octagonal in section, tapering upwards from the back of the face to a double-banded, transverse collar beneath a bevelled, circular suspension loop (for a chain or chord) with small knop at the apex. There is slight damage present on the handle and to the edge of the die face.

The die face measures 15.2mm x 13.5mm. The height of the matrix is 22.8mm. Weight: 4.8g.

The object, which is worn and displays some minimal damage, has not undergone any cleaning or conservation.


This is a personal seal matrix of post-medieval date, although matrices of pedestal type are an enduring form in use from the medieval period through to the present day. Examples of comparable form, style and execution are recorded from the early post-medieval period (in silver), such as from Suffolk (PAS ref: NMS-FC9663) Hampshire (HAMP-C75672) and Denbighshire, Wales (NMW Treasure case number 14.28). These examples date from between the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and display almost parallel components to the recorded example, such as collared handle form, suspension hoop and oval die face. Based on these criteria the matrix is likely to be of comparable date.

Individual elements of the motif, such as the pierced heart and clasped hands are present on jewellery and other personal items throughout the post-medieval period, signifying friendship, love or faith. Cuffed, clasped hands, are commonly found on 'fede' rings, popular between the late fifteenth and seventeenth centuries (e.g. Dalton, 1912. nos: 1017 and 1051).

Buttons and cufflinks of predominantly seventeenth century date feature combinations of the motifs such as the double pierced heart or clasped hands with two hearts (crowned). These designs are often attributed to the commemoration of the marriage of Charles II to Catherine of Braganza in 1662 but continued in use for a period afterwards as a symbol of marriage (Lewis, 2013). In contrast, the matrix features a single pierced arrow, probably representative of romantic love; a theme echoed on the seventeenth century silver matrix featuring Eros (NMW Treasure no. 14.28).

The exact combination of motifs seen on the matrix are not commonly known. The closest parallels are observed on two late seventeenth century silver matrices from Shropshire (Treasure case 2013-T499) and Essex (Treasure case 2013-T689). However, the matrix form and execution of the designs on these examples are markedly different to this matrix and the heart is not pierced on either example.

Class: Silver pedestal type

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: Brecknock Museum
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2015TRW30


Broad period: POST MEDIEVAL
Period from: POST MEDIEVAL

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Weight: 4.8 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Thursday 1st October 2015

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Sian Iles
Identified by: Sian Iles

Other reference numbers

Other reference: STTS 2017.22
Treasure case number: 2015TRW30

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: Wales (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Powys (Unitary Authority)
District: Powys (Unitary Authority)
Parish or ward: Llanfihangel Cwmdu with Bwlch and Cathedine (Community)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SO1821
Four figure Latitude: 51.88150985
Four figure longitude: -3.19270387
1:25K map: SO1821
1:10K map: SO12SE
Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: Brecknock Museum
General landuse: Cultivated land

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Audit data

Recording Institution: NMGW
Created: 2 years ago
Updated: About one year ago

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