Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

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Mick James
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Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Mick James »

I've had one on my wish list for 30 years. It came my way simply because "she that is obeyed" wanted to walk the dog on level Local authority land that I have permission to detect (after giving them lots of finds for their little museum). Not a chance of finding anything there but "hey ho lets go". Within 5 minutes it came up with its broken, corroded, larger version, talk of shock!
I've included a flipped image, so as to make reading easier but I can't find it anywhere.
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Last edited by Mick James on Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:25 pm, edited 3 times in total.



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Re: Large medieval matrix

Post by Bradrick »

Beautiful, just beautiful. Well done! ::g
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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Mancave-man »

That is just brilliant. Well found ::g

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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Oxgirl36 »

Oh wow that’s very nice ::g
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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by littleboot »

Oh thats just brilliant. Super find. Its really a splendid example of a seal matrix so it is fitting you waited so long for one to come up.
I love it when wishes come true for people.

Its big and clearly important...more than simply 'personal' but probably representing an ecclesiastical house of office. We will all be so interested to see any research into it.

As an aside....the 'other' one. Did it come up together with this ...i.e. in the same hole? Because it could be related to it in terms of maybe being some receptacle for it, especially as it is the same shape but a tad bigger and clearly not made of the same metal.

Last word of inscription is Episcopus...relating to a bishop....which of course matches the image.
David, by grace of God..something something Bishop.
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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Mick James »

Thank you for your comments and your knowledge.
Yes the larger seal came from the same hole. The ground was covered in roots and stones and I'm afraid I did clip the intact seal but the other bits had historic breaks. There was lots of rubbish within 6ft, I'll return tomorrow to dig it all up, hopefully there are some more treasures in amongst it.
I'll also email photos to our friendly FLO since there are quite a few on PAS.

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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Ray »

That surely is something very special. Well done.
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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by sweepstick47 »

A cracking find Mick, nicely written-up and accompanied by spot on quality photo's too if may say so ::g Your 'friendly' FLO is going to love that and perhaps the local archaeological chaps will also show an interest. I also like the fact that you've provided a few exhibits for the museum ::g
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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by oldartefact »

The very best of its type... very well done indeed.
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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Spearhead »

That's a lovely find. Well done. It's a bishop's seal as indicated by the last word episcopus. The first name looks like David. No doubt Fusion will fill in the gaps. ::g

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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Fusion »

That's a substantial seal, twice the size of the average personal seal.
As it's clearly from a religious establishment, the obvious question to ask is - is the findspot near a church, abbey, priory, monastery etc? Possibly with St Andrew in the name?
It reads something like:
+ DAVIT : DEI :ORA : SCI ANDREE : EPISCOPVS

SCI ANDREE = sancti andree = Sacred/Saint Andrew
episcopus is Bishop
ORA is Prayer, though it could be speaker, messenger; DEI is God
I'm stuck on Davit, other than suggesting it's David
So possibly: "David, God's messenger, Bishop of St Andrews"

Saint Andrew is typically depicted with his distinctive X cross , maybe back in 1250 - ish, that wasn't a common thing.
Last edited by Fusion on Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by littleboot »

Fusion wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:42 pm


Saint Andrew is typically depicted with his distinctive X cross , maybe back in 1250 - ish, that wasn't a common thing.
But I see it as a representation of the Bish....not a representation of the Saint (I mean the mitre and crook and all the Bish-y things are there) so the fact there is no St Andrew stuff in it is a moot point?
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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Doyoudigitman »

Fantastic find well done ::g

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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Shaneb3 »

I found my first seal a couple of weeks ago and it was the one thing I've always wanted to find. This one is truly magnificent and probably one of the best I've seen on here. Well done really happy for you ::g

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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Spearhead »

Out of interest what's the other side like?

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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Mick James »

Thanks all for your replies and thank you Fusion for your depth of knowledge.
There is no nearby church, monastery or religious building of any sort however I will continue to search since the reformation may have been the cause of a religious buildings permanent demise.
I say this because in April this year I found my first Papal Bulla (13th century Pope Innocent IV no less). It was found ~30 miles away from the seal matrix near to the site of a pre reformation church destroyed under Henry 8th. The church was rebuilt a few miles from the original building, my Papal Bulla is now on display there. Perhaps something similar has occurred here, the matrix seal find spot is within a couple of miles of several churches but none referring to David nor Andrew. The find spot is also near to Nunnery Lane.
There was a convent 7 miles away in the 11th century until a wealthy merchant persuaded his apparently very handsome nephew to stay at the convent to convalesce for long enough to impregnate several of the nuns. By discrediting them he was allowed to build his castle on the site which had previously been protected for them by the King (presumably Harold). Perhaps the church lasted longer than the convent.
I found a St Andrews Church in that same town as the castle but they told me it was built in 1992 and was not connected to any other religious building of the same name. I wonder if those speaking just didn't know.
Last edited by Mick James on Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Mick James »

The other side
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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Spearhead »

It appears to be made of lead which is not what I would have expected for a bishop. I would have expected bronze or even possibly silver. So if it is lead it's interesting.
A friend of mine found the seal of the bishop of Neath abbey and that was silver.

Maybe the lead seal was for one of his servants to use in the bishop's absence a bit like having a company credit card and maybe the corroded bronze one was the one the bishop used himself? That would add up.
Last edited by Spearhead on Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by shaggybfc »

Lovely find and in great condition ::g
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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Fusion »

I'm wondering if the inscription is intended to read DEI : GRA = god's grace, but they messed it up. Many similar seals all read Dei Gra, making yours an odd one.
It may be well-travelled, and actually be from St Andrews in Scotland.
Here's the seal of James (Jacob), bishop of St Andrews:
http://palimpsest.dur.ac.uk/ead/picture ... gb3629.jpg
"James Kennedy, Bishop of St Andrews
1440-1465. He was bishop of Dunkeld, chancellor of Scotland (1414) and regent of the kingdom in the minority of James III. The figure on the dexter side of St Andrew is St Michael, that on the sinister possibly St Columba (for Dunkeld). The dexter shield bears the arms of Kennedy blasoned Silver a chevron gules between three crosses crosslet fitchy gules within the Scottish tressure, the shield on the sinister is the same without the tressure.
Size: 76 x 22 mm.
Seal design: Oval. In a central niche of rich tabernacle work is St Andrew on his cross. In a niche above him is Our Lady robed and crowned with the child Christ in her arms, beneath him is a shield of arms - Scotland. In a niche on the dexter is the standing nimbed figure of St Michael holding a cross in his left hand and a pair of scales in his right. On the sinister in a like niche is the standing figure of a bishop nimbed and in mass vestments with crosier and mitre, in his right hand a chalice, in his left a crosier. In a niche beneath is the bishop, in pontificals, kneeling in prayer. On his dexter is a shield of arms a chevron between three crosses crosslet fitchy within a tressure of Scotland; on his sinister is a like shield of arms a chevron between three crosses crosslet fitchy.
Inscription: s : jacobi : dei : gracia episcopi : sancti andree

Taken from "Durham Cathedral Muniments":
http://reed.dur.ac.uk/xtf/view?docId=ar ... 3wv76d.xml
Last edited by Fusion on Sun Sep 15, 2019 10:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Spearhead »

Fusion wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:26 pm
I'm wondering if the inscription is intended to read DEI : GRA = god's grace, but they messed it up. Many similar seals all read Dei Gra, making yours an odd one.
It may be well-travelled, and actually be from St Andrews in Scotland.
Here's the seal of James (Jacob), bishop of St Andrews:
http://palimpsest.dur.ac.uk/ead/picture ... gb3629.jpg
"James Kennedy, Bishop of St Andrews
1440-1465. He was bishop of Dunkeld, chancellor of Scotland (1414) and regent of the kingdom in the minority of James III (Bps. Scot. 31; Keith, 29; Anc. Ch. Scot. 87). Anc. Scot. Seal I, 870; Hist. Scot. Seal pl. 62; Arm. Scot. Seal 1462; SBM 14933. The figure on the dexter side of St Andrew is St Michael, that on the sinister possibly St Columba (for Dunkeld). The dexter shield bears the arms of Kennedy blasoned Silver a chevron gules between three crosses crosslet fitchy gules within the Scottish tressure, the shield on the sinister is the same without the tressure.

Size: 76 x 22 mm.
Seal design: Oval. In a central niche of rich tabernacle work is St Andrew on his cross. In a niche above him is Our Lady robed and crowned with the child Christ in her arms, beneath him is a shield of arms - Scotland. In a niche on the dexter is the standing nimbed figure of St Michael holding a cross in his left hand and a pair of scales in his right. On the sinister in a like niche is the standing figure of a bishop nimbed and in mass vestments with crosier and mitre, in his right hand a chalice, in his left a crosier. In a niche beneath is the bishop, in pontificals, kneeling in prayer. On his dexter is a shield of arms a chevron between three crosses crosslet fitchy within a tressure of Scotland; on his sinister is a like shield of arms a chevron between three crosses crosslet fitchy.
Inscription: s : jacobi : dei : gracia episcopi : sancti andree

Taken from:
http://reed.dur.ac.uk/xtf/view?docId=ar ... 3wv76d.xml
The seal inscription on the St James seal is vastly superior workmanship than this lead one and is clearly bronze. It does seem to support my hypothesis above.

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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Phil2401 »

Absolutely stunning find! Just putting 2 + 2 together - the name David and association with St Andrew...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Beaton

No doubt completely off track but an interesting read anyway :)

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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by peteh »

What an amazing find - one of those goes to the top of my bucket list now :D
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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by stubble hunter »

Top find Mick!
And definitely gets my seal of approval! :) :D
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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Fusion »

Q:"The seal inscription on the St James seal is vastly superior workmanship than this lead one and is clearly bronze"
Bronze seals became the norm by 1300-1350, and the James seal is much later in date, so I would expect better workmanship.

I think this may be our man: David De Bernham:
https://www.scottish-places.info/people ... t1923.html
From the earlier posted link to Durham muniments:

3620
David of Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews
1239/40-1253. He was chamberlain to the king of Scotland (Alexander II)
Size: 70 x 44 mm.Size: Secretum: 32 x 22 mm.
Seal design: Oval, the bishop in mass vestments, standing in profile to the sinister. His right hand blesses, his left hand, with maniple, holds his crosier. Behind him, in the field is a crescent with a star above it.Secretum: oval, antique gem, Silenus and nymphs.
Inscription: ... DA ... DEI ...IA . SCO...M EP

maniple = Ecclesiastical: one of the Eucharistic vestments, consisting of an ornamental band or strip worn on the left arm near the wrist.
The description of the image is a close match, though the inscription is not.
Also:
https://www.poms.ac.uk/record/person/432/
Last edited by Fusion on Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:04 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by T-800 »

Very Nice!!! ::g

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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by jondurandsilver »

What a beaut!
Well found and well done for not slicing it in half, lead is a very soft metal that can be damaged easily.
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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by TheMellowedMole »

What a smashing find that is well done and well recovered ::g

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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by oldartefact »

Fusion wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:11 pm
Q:"The seal inscription on the St James seal is vastly superior workmanship than this lead one and is clearly bronze"
Bronze seals became the norm by 1300-1350, and the James seal is much later in date, so I would expect better workmanship.

I think this may be our man: David De Bernham:
https://www.scottish-places.info/people ... t1923.html
From the earlier posted link to Durham muniments:

3620
David of Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews
1239/40-1253. He was chamberlain to the king of Scotland (Alexander II)
Size: 70 x 44 mm.Size: Secretum: 32 x 22 mm.
Seal design: Oval, the bishop in mass vestments, standing in profile to the sinister. His right hand blesses, his left hand, with maniple, holds his crosier. Behind him, in the field is a crescent with a star above it.Secretum: oval, antique gem, Silenus and nymphs.
Inscription: ... DA ... DEI ...IA . SCO...M EP

maniple = Ecclesiastical: one of the Eucharistic vestments, consisting of an ornamental band or strip worn on the left arm near the wrist.
The description of the image is a close match, though the inscription is not.
Also:
https://www.poms.ac.uk/record/person/432/
Very very good, particularly if the seal was found in the St. Andrews area.. ? Often knowing where personal items were found narrows down a correct ID . I found a seal for John Le Hind,and I managed to trace down his living relatives (still farming their ancestors land a couple of miles away) to return their lost property.
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Re: Large medieval matrix seal 65mm x 43mm

Post by Phil2401 »

Fusion wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:11 pm
Q:"The seal inscription on the St James seal is vastly superior workmanship than this lead one and is clearly bronze"
Bronze seals became the norm by 1300-1350, and the James seal is much later in date, so I would expect better workmanship.

I think this may be our man: David De Bernham:
https://www.scottish-places.info/people ... t1923.html
Just wondering Fusion - does the fact that my earlier suggestion is later in date rule out David Beaton? Haven't been able to find his seal though. David de Bernham's seal describes him as standing in profile to the sinister - in this example the figure is facing forward.... could there have been variations?

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