PAS Finds

PAS Finds: week ended 30 September 2022

PAS Finds: week ended 30 September 2022

My selection of the detecting finds recorded at the PAS for the week ended 30 September 2022

Featured Find

Anglo-Saxon Aestel

Photo: Northamptonshire County Council CC By SA2.0
Object type: Aestel
Period: Anglo-Saxon
Primary material: Gold
Date found: 01/09/2022
Location: East Northamptonshire

A gold handle to an aestel dating to 850-900. The socket would have housed a pointer and which would have been used for following words when reading a book. One side is flat and undecorated to allow it to move smoothly over a vellum page. A handful of objects of a similar form have been recorded at the PAS and this one has been designated a Find of Note of Regional Importance. It is currently going through the Treasure process.

Alfred Jewel

The most famous aestel handle is the Alfred Jewel, so called because it is believed to have been made for Alfred the Great.

Alfred Jewel. Photo: Mkooiman, CC BY SA4.0

It was found in 1693 in a field in North Pertherton, Somerset, only a few miles from Athelney Abbey which was a stronghold for Alfred.

In 1718 it was presented to the Ashmolean Museum by Colonel Nathaniel Palmer.

Around the edge is the inscription “AELFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN”, “Alfred ordered me to be made“. Alfred is the only English monarch to be known as “Great”. His achievements were not only military but also cultural and he would commission translations of religious.

He sent a translation of Pastoral Care by Pope Gregory the Great (written c.890) to monasteries throughout England. In the preface to the book he wrote “And I will send a copy to every bishop’s see in my kingdom, and in each book there is an aestel of 50 mancusses and I command, in God’s name, that no man take the staff from the book, nor the book from the church

Selection of other finds

Photo: Birmingham Museums Trust CC By SA2.0

Costrel shaped pilgrim’s ampulla

Pilgrim’s ampulla are one of the most common finds on the PAS database. This one is unusual because it is shaped like a traveller’s water bottle known as a costrel. It appears to have been deliberately pierced to let the water out. A Find of Note of County Importance.
Photo: The Portable Antiquities Scheme CC By SA2.0

Papal bulla of Pius II

Pius II is the only pope to write an autobiography during his reign. In it he describes Scotland as “wild, bare and never visited by the sun in winter” and only on reaching Newcastle did he recall reaching “a civilised part of the world and the inhabitable face of the Earth“. His time in Scotland couldn’t have been all bad as he managed to father a child. It is only the third example of a bulla of Pius II
Photo: Surrey County Council CC By SA2.0

Half Angel of Henry VII

A rarer early type (Class I) of half angel of Henry VII using old dies that have been altered. In this type St. Michael has one foot on the ground but in later types both feet are on the dragon. A Find of Note of County Importance.
Photo: North Lincolnshire Museum CC By SA2.0

Forgery of a Charles I shilling

A silver plated forgery of a Charles I shilling with a couple of curious errors; the legend reads CAROLVS II and the mark of value behind the king’s head is XX instead of XII. Perhaps the forger intended to gild it and try to pass it as a 20 shilling piece. Designated a Find of Note.
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