LEAVE A GOOD IMPRESSION
In the past I have published posts … and lost them. Many were valuable assets and, sometimes I resurrect the originals (if it’s possible) to give them a new lease life of life.
To those long-time devoted readers who have read them before, I apologise, but they will be new to most. Today’s offering is about a very important seal matrix.
As detectorists many of us are fortunate enough to find a seal matrix and are rather pleased, but this is something different. Historians at the Manx National Heritage (MNH) describe the silver seal discovered by Andy Falconer in the north of the island early in 2012 as incredibly significant.
Glasgow–born detectorist Andy, who moved to the Isle of Man from Guernsey, went one stage further and described his remarkable discovery as the find of a lifetime.
Although he has just been in the hobby for just over two years, Andy has built up quite a collection of finds, but this is probably the best. He was searching in the company of experienced detectorist Rob Farrer when he unearthed the seal.
Andy said, “We had just started out and I was walking towards the end of the field when I found an Elizabeth I hammered coin. I decided to concentrate in that area to look for more coins.”
There was a ‘massive’ signal and it was only about 4” down. Although Andy had no idea what it was at first, when he showed it to Rob his friend’s eyes lit up. Furthermore, Rob was able to tell him exactly what he’d found!
Regular readers may be familiar with the name Farrer. Rob himself hit the headlines when he discovered the fragments of a Viking sword. The story can be seen in the September 2008 edition of The Searcher. He was also awarded with the Manx Heritage Foundation’s prestigious Cultural Award for 2009.
A WISH COMES TRUE
It looked as though Andy’s wish to find something of great importance and also to add to medieval history has come true. The seal (about 3cm in length) was taken to the Manx Museum the following day. Experts cannot be entirely sure who is depicted on the seal, but there is a figure in the praying position near the base and two figures above – probably saints.
Allison Fox, Curator of Archaeology, said that saints were very important people for the whole island and items from the medieval period in history were very rare. Most of the information in their possession had been obtained from manuscripts rather then artefacts.
She went on to say that the seal would’ve been used by a bishop to validate judgments from the Church and dates between 1315 and 1331 A.D. Five different bishops held office during this period so it is difficult to pinpoint exactly which one owned this seal.
The Latin inscription when translated reads Let the prayers to God of Germanus and Patricius help us, so there’s a definite Manx context to its history, but there’s more research to be done. With the permission of Andy and the landowner, the seal starred in the Manx Museum’s Forgotten Kingdom exhibition in 2013.
This is a seal matrix, belonging to a high-ranking Church official and probably used in an ad causas seal – ie used to verify judicial decisions. It dates to around AD 1315–1330 and is a high quality item, with fine engraving and a silver content of around 98%. On the front (reversed, as in all seal matrices) are two forward-facing human figures sitting beneath arches whose architecture is ecclesiastical in nature. The clothing on the figures is also ecclesiastical. Beneath these figures is another human figure, side on, kneeling in prayer and, again, wearing ecclesiastical robes. Around the outer edge is an inscription, most of which is legible, which reads as follows; *SIT __ECE GERMANI PATRICIUS : DEO SAL, translated as Let the prayers to God of Germanus and Patricius help (us) Manx National Heritage
Before you open your wallet and invest in a new metal detector, take a look at the latest blog post from my doppelgänger in America, Dick Stout. Click on the image …
A version of this blog post was originally published by The Searcher magazine in February 2013