Background

Hundreds of thousands of medieval seals survive in archives, museums and private collections across Britain. Most are small but they nevertheless can convey a great deal of information about the people and institutions that owned and used them: whether someone was a nobleman or a metal-smith, into what type of family a woman had married, to which saint a monastery was dedicated. Seals can also tell us about naming patterns, ties of family and kinship, the different types of law which were used and varying ways of holding land. They also provided royalty and the nobility with new ways of representing themselves and expressing identity. Seals were however not the preserve of the elites; men and women across society owned and used them and provide glimpses of lives which otherwise have all but disappeared from the historical record.[1]

 

[1]Seals in Context: Medieval Wales and the Welsh Marches / SeliauyneuCyd-destun: Cymrua’rMersynyrOesoeddCanol, edited by John McEwan and Elizabeth A New with Susan M Johns and Phillipp R Schofield, Aberystwyth University, 2012, p.8 [adapted text]

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