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Papal Bulla of Martin IV


Chris Martin is the detectorist who unearthed this find. It’s a lead Papal bulla and will be about 40mm in diameter.

One side is in poor condition but if the detail was visible it would show the heads of St. Paul and St. Peter. Directly above the heads would be SPA SPE, which stands of St. Paul and St. Peter.

On the other side of this bulla, in three lines, is MAR TInVS PPIIII, which is the name of the Pope – in this case Martin IV, whose dates are 1281-85.

A bulla was attached to an official document sent to England by a Pope. Many of these things have been found by detectorists, which seem to prove that Popes often communicated with high ranking members of the Church in England. The latter would include archbishops, bishops and abbots. They were also sent to the king, who would not always welcome them. There were often disputes between kings and popes, especially in regard as who had the right to grant posts in the Church.



Chris’s find is not in good condition. One side is only poor; the other side is better but has a gouge in the surface. On the plus side, Martin IV was Pope for only a short period so a bulla bearing his name is scarcer than many others others. However, with any ‘collectable’ it is the state of preservation that is the most important factor in regard to commercial value. As it stands, I’d say this bulla would be worth at best £40.


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Chris Martin
Chris Martin
2 years ago

Thank you very much for all the information!! A nice little read.