Medieval treasure from across Uttlesford goes on display at Saffron Walden Museum

22 November, 2017 - 09:56
Carolyn Wingfield, curator at Saffron Walden Museum, with some of the treasures going on display. Picture: UDC

Carolyn Wingfield, curator at Saffron Walden Museum, with some of the treasures going on display. Picture: UDC

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Medieval treasures from across Uttlesford go on display at Saffron Walden Museum today.

Silver seal found in Great Hallingbury thought to date from around 1250 to 1350. Picture: UDCSilver seal found in Great Hallingbury thought to date from around 1250 to 1350. Picture: UDC

A silver seal matrix featuring a pelican, found in the Great Hallingbury parish and thought to date back to 1250-1350, was used to stamp wax seals on letters.

It also has a motto in medieval French, translated as “I am private and a good friend”. In medieval legend, the ‘pelican in her piety’ was thought to feed her chicks on blood from her own breast, so the pelican also became a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice for humankind.

The museum has been able to purchase the seal thanks to the support of The Arts Society Saffron Walden.

Medieval gold coins, a brooch and a ring with a secret inscription have also been purchased by the Saffron Walden Museum Society, adding to the display of local archaeology.

Medieval gold coins, a brooch and a ring purchased by the Saffron Walden Museum Society. Picture: UDCMedieval gold coins, a brooch and a ring purchased by the Saffron Walden Museum Society. Picture: UDC

All the finds were made by metal detectorists. The finder of the brooch and the landowner of the ring both kindly waived their awards which reduced the costs to the museum.

Three gold coins, all quarter-nobles of Edward III and dating from around 1350, were found in the Great Dunmow area. Edward III was the first English king to introduce gold coinage, so these three small coins represent an important event in England’s monetary history.

The gold ring was found in the Stansted Mountfitchet area and dates from the reign of Charles II.

The tiny skull engraved on the hoop is a clue to its secret. This is a ‘memento mori’ ring, a personal way of commemorating the death of a loved one. The inside of the hoop is engraved with the initials of the deceased S C and the date on which they died, March 17, 1680.

A little silver-gilt brooch from High Roothing, in the form of two serpents coiled in a circle, is also part of the collection.

Vic Ranger, Uttlesford district councillor for communities and partnerships, said: “I am so pleased Saffron Walden Museum is able to acquire and display such important finds from Uttlesford district.

“The support of local people and organisations like The Arts Society Saffron Walden, working in cooperation with the Saffron Walden Museum Society, is much appreciated.”

All the treasures can be viewed in the museum between 10am and 4.30pm Tuesday-Saturday, and 2-4.30pm Sundays.

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