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Medieval Seals

Religious Houses.

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Benedictine cathedral priory of Durham, G&B 3427. The date of the matrix of the face of this seal remains to be satisfactorily established: both the legend and the central design are significant. Of the former (+ SIGILLVM CVDBERHTI PRÆSULIS SC-I) G&B remarked `The rude and early form of the Roman capitals ... may well date from the end of the tenth or early eleventh century', and they could have added that the spelling of Cuthbert's name and the use of the term `praesul' point to an early date. On the other hand it is far from clear for what purpose the Congregation of St Cuthbert, which was replaced by the monastic community in 1083, might have created such an object c.1000. G&B also remarked that the central cross `was very probably copied from that worn by St Cuthbert and found on his breast at the examination of his body'; they were presumably referring to the examination in 1104, and whether the form of that cross was already known then is not clear. An impression of the face survives which is dateable to c.1149 (1.2.Pont.3*). The reverse came into use c.1200 when an antique gem depicting Jupiter was designated as the head of St Oswald, which was kept in St Cuthbert's coffin. The monastic community continued to use these seals until its dissolution on the last day of 1539. 3.6.Spec.6

(?) Cistercian abbey of Revesby (Lincolnshire), founded in 1143, with St Ailred of Rievaulx as its first abbot (1143-47), G&B 1994. This vesica-shaped seal, depicting a tonsured figure with sleeves covering his hands, is presumably monastic and the damaged legend includes a word beginning "REV..."; it is attached to a badly written grant of property in Lincolnshire by Hugh son of Pinceon to the monks of Durham, who had close connections with Ailred, but the text does not mention that the seal is not Hugh's. 3.3.Ebor.31*


Kepier hospital, Durham, 1189, G&B 3380. Vesica-shaped, with support at the top. 4.16.Spec.45b *

Augustinian priory of Guisborough, c.1200, face and secret, G&B 3481. 3.8.Spec.15

Augustinian cathedral priory of St Andrews, G&B 3679. It is clear from the surviving remains that the design of the face of this vesica-shaped seal, in use by 1207, was based on the actual twelfth-century cathedral. MC 1310

Augustinian priory of Brinkburn (Northumberland), G&B 3416. A canon is shown kneeling at the feet of the priory's patrons: St Peter, with his keys, and St Paul, bald as usual at this date, with his sword.

Benedictine abbey, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St Ecgwin (bishop of Worcester, d. 717), of Evesham, G&B 3465. Vesica-shaped. The lower part of the reverse depicts the legendary swineherd Eoves; he is surrounded by a scroll inscribed in English which refers to the belief that he gave his name to Evesham. 2.4.Ebor.13