Medieval seal matrices

Suggested period: MEDIEVAL

There are an immense number of projects that could be done on these objects, which are only just starting to be used for research on medieval literacy (there is a current Leicester PhD scoping out the potential). The PAS database currently (April 2019) has close to 6000 examples, and adds about 300 per year. PAS seal matrices are also different to those that have survived in museum collections, or the seals on manuscripts; the vast majority are very ordinary everyday personal non-heraldic seal matrices. Women’s use of seals is an obvious topic, but there are plenty of other ideas, particularly for an interdisciplinary historical archaeology or medieval studies MA. Pointed-oval seals are more equally divided between men and women than the more common circular seals; is there something interesting about the men (e.g. are they clerics)? What links are there between central motif and the identity of the owner (the answer could be ‘none’)? Do seals show any form of regionalism – for example, do the East Anglian seals show differences which could be interpreted as the result of the region having a larger number of free landholders? Can we use seal matrices to trace the development of various types of byname and surname? For seals with mottoes, we need a scoping survey; which are the commonest, how do the mottoes relate to central motif, and (for historians) how were they used?

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Created by: Daniel Pett
Created: 12 years ago
Updated by: Helen Geake
Updated: 2 years ago

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