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Medieval Seals


The Durham Cathedral Muniments, now in the care of Durham University Library Archives & Special Collections, are one the richest British archives for surviving medieval seals; they include a substantial number of Scottish seals in consequence of the important holdings north of the Tweed belonging to the Benedictine monks of Durham Cathedral Priory. A well-illustrated catalogue by W. Greenwell and C. H. Hunter Blair, Catalogue of the Seals in the Treasury of the Dean and Chapter of Durham, was published in Archaeologia Aeliana 3rd series 7-17 (1911-20), and then separately in two volumes; this catalogue is cited below as G&B. A revised and updated version of this, the catalogue of the medieval seals in the Durham Cathedral Muniments can also be found online; click here....

A selection of medieval documents from the Cathedral Muniments may be found at http://www.dur.ac.uk/medieval.documents/; those among them with seals shewn here are identified by *.

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Broken knife used as a `signum', G&B 3366; for an engraving see J. Raine, The History and Antiquities of North Durham (Durham & London, 1852), Appendix p. 135. An inscription incised in the two sides of the handle indicates that it concerns Lowick chapel and its tithes, from the curia and from the vill; the text tied to it identifies the gift as being to the monks of Holy Island by Stephen of Bulmer, his wife and their heir, dating it before Stephen's death between 1170 and 1172. Presumably the knife was the symbol handed over when the gift was made, with the explanatory text attached later. 3.1.Spec.72 *