SOM-A3D47E: Medieval seal matrix

Rights Holder: Somerset County Council
CC License:

Rights Holder: Somerset County Council
CC License:

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Unique ID: SOM-A3D47E

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

Medieval copper alloy seal matrix for cloth seals recording the payment of the Cloth Subsidy (tax) dating to the c. AD 1350-1380. The matrix is a flat circular disc with the remains of a projecting circular sectioned handle projecting from slightly offcentre on the back. The front is incised with a crowned head around which is a plain line border and the indented legend: +S SVBSIDII PAnnORVM (Seal for the subsidy of cloth) with a second narrow line border around the outer edge. The crown has bifoliate side fleurs and a large central fleur. The hair and face are similar to those seen on contemporary coins, although hand engraved rather than punched and with a incised transverse line across the neck.

The circular handle is worn and appears to end in an old break, particular in comparison to more complete examples. It is possible the point opposite the start of the legend on the front was indicated by a mark but this area is abraded.

The matrix is 28.3mm in diameter, 2.8mm thick and the handle 7.5mm in diameter and 8.4mm tall. It weighs 11.68g.

The matrix appears very similar to an example in the British Museum (Acc. no. 1887, 11-27, 29) published by Egan (1994, 21) who comments that another of this form is also known and an impression of a third is known from a document. Egan (ibid) suggests this early form, which probably dates to c. AD 1353 to 1380 were used with wax, unlike the lead seals specified after 1380. The initial mark is of note as these vary on all known examples and are probably therefore privy marks to identify specific seals or dates. However damage and wear makes the mark on this example difficult to interpret, three branches appear to project sideways and down and it maybe a trefoil or a cross crosslet or a cross fleuretty. This example also lacks the contraction marks in the legend seen in other examples.

The plain handle is unlike usual matrices of the day and could have been fitted into a wooden handle. However it could equally be used as is, especially if the handle was originally longer, as seen on the British Museum example.

Pictures of this seal were also published by Stuart Elton (2017, 27) and on his website as BSG.CS.01096. He suggests the initial mark may be a raspberry or bunch of grapes by parallel to Egan (1987, p.33 - 36) Fig.3B.

Examples of later 14th and 15th century seal matrices for the Wool Subsidy (tax) on the database of a variety of forms include BH-B7E198, BUC-C91E47 , HESH-F166B5 , YORYM-EFCDF3,SUR-AB43CB, NFAHG-C241B0. and SOMDOR-0AD253.

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: Include in MedArch

Inscription: +S SVBSIDII PAnnORVM

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: MEDIEVAL
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Period to: MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1350
Date to: Circa AD 1380

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Thickness: 11.2 mm
Weight: 11.68 g
Diameter: 28.3 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Friday 1st January 2016 - Saturday 31st December 2016

Personal details

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Other reference numbers

Other reference: SCC receipt 018383

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

County or Unitary authority: Dorset (County)
District: West Dorset (District)
To be known as: Nether Compton CP

Spatial coordinates

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

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

Author Publication Year Title Publication Place Publisher Pages Reference
Egan, G. 1994 Lead cloth seals and related items in the British Museum London Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities, British Museum
Elton, S. F. 2017 Cloth Seals: An Illustrated reference guide to the identification of lead seals attached to cloth Oxford Archaeopress Archaeology

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: SOM
Created: 3 years ago
Updated: 3 years ago

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