WMID-843708: Medieval: Incomplete papal bulla of Pope Martin IV

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
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Unique ID: WMID-843708

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

A complete lead papal bulla, issued by Pope Martin IV (AD 1281 to AD 1285).

The obverse bears the legend "MAR / TINVS / PP •IIII•" within a beaded border. 'PP', is an abbreviation of pastor pastorum - meaning shepherd of the shepherds.

The reverse depicts the face of St Peter and St Paul, below the inscription SPA SPE (SPA = Sanctus Paulus, SPE = Sanctus Petrus), all of which are surrounded by a beaded border, flanking the outside edge of the bulla. Some of the beaded border is missing. St Peter is seen on the right, looking left, with St. Paul on the left looking right, with a long pointed beard, within a backwards-C shaped beaded border, joined to the main. There is a cross between the saints.

Two circular holes have been drilled into the bulla. One is located in the centre, and the other at 2 o'clock on the obverse, towards the edge. They have an internal diameter of 3.0 mm.

The bulla measures 36.2 mm in length, 37.0 mm wide and 5.3 mm thick. It weighs 36.2 g.

The surface of the bulla has a well developed cream coloured patination and the bulla is in very good condition.

Several papal bullae of Pope Martin IV have been recorded on the PAS database, including KENT-FF5704, IOW-5C6967, BERK-47DE41 and DENO-533BB4.

Papal bullae were used as seals on official papal documents sent out from Rome (and during the schism, Avignon) as a means of authentication. Tim Pestell has stated on other bulla records: "Papal bulls came as two basic types, according to the contents of the document: Tituli, or "Letters of Grace", essentially granted or confirmed rights, conferred benefices or promulgated statutes. They generally had their lead bullae attached with cords of silk. Mandamenta, or "Letters of Justice" were mandates that conveyed papal orders, prohibitions or injunctions, and had their bullae attached by hemp threads". They may have also had a secondary use as an amulet, which may explain the ancient damage to this example.

Inscription: SPA SPE / MAR / TINVS / PP •IIII•
Evidence of reuse: pierced with two holes

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: MEDIEVAL
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Period to: MEDIEVAL
Date from: Exactly AD 1281
Date to: Exactly AD 1285
Period of reuse: MEDIEVAL

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 36.2 mm
Width: 37 mm
Thickness: 5.3 mm
Weight: 36.2 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Friday 15th September 2017 - Friday 15th September 2017

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Miss Teresa Gilmore
Identified by: Miss Teresa Gilmore

Materials and construction

Primary material: Lead
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: West Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Staffordshire (County)
District: East Staffordshire (District)
Parish or ward: Croxden (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SK0640
Four figure Latitude: 52.95734031
Four figure longitude: -1.91213288
1:25K map: SK0640
1:10K map: SK04SE
Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Discovery circumstances: Found whilst out searching with a metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: WMID
Created: About one year ago
Updated: 5 months ago

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