NFAHG-C241B0: Medieval seal matrix, reversed and with lettering added

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
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Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
CC License:

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Unique ID: NFAHG-C241B0

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Copper-alloy seal matrix with socket, for producing cloth seals (alnage seals). The die itself is circular and 29mm in diameter. In side view, the matrix rises vertically from the die for about 3mm then begins to taper with a slightly concave curve to an open end 19-20mm in external diameter. The matrix is overall 14mm thick and weighs 39.0g.

There are two small bumps on the outside, very close to the socket's edge, which are surrounded by iron staining and which may be the remains of iron nails fastening a wooden handle. These are not quite opposite each other; one is above the C in the inscription, the other above the first n.

The die is engraved with an animal head, probably a lion or leopard, with round eyes and nose, full cheeks, heavy brows and spiky hair or fur. This is above a small neat fleur-de-lis and the whole is enclosed within a quatrefoil formed of a narrow groove. The inscription around is set between two bold unbeaded grooves and reads S'VLnAG' PAnnORV COM SUFF (Seal of Alnage for Cloth in the County of Suffolk). The R and second V are hard to read. The lettering is Lombardic.

This is only the third matrix of its type, with socket for a wooden handle, recorded on the PAS database (compare SUR-AB43CB for Southampton and YORYM-EFCDF3 for Essex). All three are matrices for cloth seals, and the inscription on SUR-AB43CB is very similar.

See SUR-AB43CB for a discussion of the use of these matrices. The dates vary from the late 13th century at earliest (YORYM-EFCDF3) to the early 16th century at latest (Egan 1994, no. 56).

There are three further socketed seal matrices for alnage or subsidy seals in the British Museum collection (1877,0512.3 for Winchester, 1915,1208.153 for Lincolnshire, and 1851,1121.2 for Wiltshire; Egan 1994, nos. 45, 56 and 104). Egan (1994, 36) comments that "matrices with similar leopard's-head and fleur-de-lis devices are known for Bristol, Kent and Suffolk" and gives references. The Suffolk example was found in the 1850s near Hadleigh, is now in Ipswich Museum; it was published in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries for 1860, p. 228, and a drawing can be found in Egan 1992 (FRG Datasheet 3), 1 fig. 4; it is very similar to the Thorpe Morieux example, showing that more than one of these seals is likely to have been in use at the same time in a single county.

Find of note status

This has been noted as an interesting find by the recorder.

Inscription: S'VLnAG' PAnnORV COM SUFF

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: MEDIEVAL
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Period to: MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1300
Date to: Circa AD 1500

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Thickness: 14 mm
Weight: 39 g
Diameter: 29 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 15th July 2018 - Wednesday 15th August 2018

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Dr Helen Geake
Identified by: Dr Helen Geake

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Secondary material: Iron
Completeness: Complete
Surface Treatment: Incised or engraved or chased

Spatial metadata

Region: Eastern (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Suffolk (County)
District: Babergh (District)
Parish or ward: Thorpe Morieux (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: TL9252
Four figure Latitude: 52.13293585
Four figure longitude: 0.80386666
1:25K map: TL9252
1:10K map: TL95SW
Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: NFAHG
Created: 7 months ago
Updated: 6 months ago

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