Jester châtelaine

Photo: The Portable Antiquities Scheme CC By SA2.0
Object type: Strap fitting
Period: Medieval
Primary material: Copper alloy
Date found: 01/06/2023
Location: Yatton Keynell, Wiltshire


A strap fitting in the form of a jester’s head which is thought to date to the 15th/16th century. It’s likely function is a châtelaine, with the loop at the bottom to suspend keys of other accoutrements.

On a very similar find in 2022, Rob Webley, former PASt Explorers Project Officer at the British Museum and current post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Exeter, commented that only seven other are known from England and four from France. It is therefore a Find of Note.

Ship of Fortune

Illustration by Albrecht Dürer in Stultifera navis (Ship of fools) by Sebastian Brant

The late Geoff Egan commented on one of those previous finds “I think this jester is, … end of Medieval/16th century. Not only the patina but the form of what may be a ‘strap end’ (for a very special costume) or if too large for that some kind of attachment, perhaps actually to a fool’s bauble. Jesters seem to have got into the repertoire of general motifs around that time – on ceramic whistles and knife handles.” The book ‘The Ship of Fools’ appeared in English in 1509 and may have contributed to this popularity