SOM-8DBE3C: Medieval steelyard weight

Rights Holder: Somerset County Council
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Rights Holder: Somerset County Council
CC License:

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Unique ID: SOM-8DBE3C

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

Part of the outer cast copper-alloy casing of a Medieval globular steelyard weight with unusual arms and part of the detached lead core which was found with it. About 20% of the casing survives. The remaining section suggest the body was spherical with a flattened area at the top . The top loop, which would have run across the middle of this flat top is lost to an old break. The top and sides lack the incised decoration which is common on these pieces. On the remaining section of side there is a near complete integrally cast raised shield. It is a triangular shield with a straight topped and straight sides meeting at a point at the bottom with a raised design of three triangles arranged two and one within a plain border, probably meant to represent three escutcheons. The piece is well finished on the outside and rough on the interior. The fragment measures 37.2mm in height 43.4mm wide and the casing is 3.7mm thick; it weighs 51.49g.

Such globular weights with raised shield designs on a copper alloy casing around an lead core are Medieval in date. Official examples were produced under a monopoly held by Richard Earl of Cornwall and Poitou, or of his son Edmund, the second Earl during the later 13th century. These official examples display a restricted range of arms and metalic composition and are categorised as Brownsword and Pitt (1983) Type A. This example in contrast is of their Type B, a group which is more variable in the incised decoration and shields shown and possibly consists of local copies of the official types and continued in use, and possibly in production, up until 1350 when steelyards were banned (Cherry 1991, p.47). Drury (1926) previously divided such weights into Classes I and II, this is an example of his Class I with cast arms.None of the examples listed in the several notes by Drury in the Proc. Dorset Nat. His. Archaeol. Soc bear the same arms as this example and none could be identified in the usual sources.

Found with the piece was a lump of lead, probably originally the core. The upper part of the lump is broadly circular/oval in plan with a slightly convex flattened top and this bit fits within the remaining casing. The lower part however is expanded out into two irregular projections, one to each side making it too large to fit in a globular weight. Within each projection and at two points in the middle are stubs of iron rods, square in cross section, 5.7mm across, and of uncertain length. Drury (ibid) identified many examples with iron pins through them which partly held the friable cor in place during the casting process. The lead piece is 36mm by 31mm at the top 49.4mm 28.4mm at the expanded base, 41.5mm tall and weighs 249.28g.

Lead weights with iron loops are also commonly used on steelyards so this may be an associated but separate weight or the iron core for the globular weight with damage to it and iron loops that projected through the casing, an unusual arrangement not paralleled on other example.

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: County / local importance

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: MEDIEVAL
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Period to: MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1250
Date to: Circa AD 1350

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Weight: 300.77 g

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 017919

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Secondary material: Lead
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Fragment

Spatial metadata

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

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: GPS (from the finder)
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: SOM
Created: About one month ago
Updated: 21 days ago

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