PAS Finds

PAS Review: week ending 14 May 2021

PAS Review: week ending 14 May 2021

A round-up of some of the finds recorded at the PAS for the week ended 14 May 2021. There were 229 finds recorded in this week

Featured Find

Boy Bishop Token

Photo: Adrian Marsden CC By SA2.0
Object type: Token
Period: Post Medieval
Primary material: Lead
Date found: 05/05/2021
Location: Surlingham, Norfolk

This token

Groat sized Boy Bishop token. The legend on the obverse reads  PIE nIChOLAE ORA PRO nOB, “Holy Saint Nicholas, pray for us“. The legends on the reverse read VOS VOCASTIS mE ECCE AD “You have called me – behold, I am here”, and on the inner ring, AVE REX GEnTIS “Hail, the King of the people”.

Boy Bishop

The Boy Bishop tradition was widespread throughout England in the late medieval period. On 6 December, the feast of Saint Nicholas (patron saint of children), a boy would be elected to symbolically take the place of the adult bishop. His authority lasted until 28 December, Holy Innocents Day.

Henry VII supported the tradition and would present money to his “St Nicholas Bishop”, a boy chosen from the choirboys of the Chapel Royal. However, Henry VIII put an end to it. It appears that he believed that it could be seen as mocking Church authorities and therefore the king himself, as he was now head of the Church. It made a brief return in Mary’s reign before being banned again by Elizabeth I.

Production of tokens

Although the Boy Bishop tradition was widespread, most Boy Bishop tokens were manufactured at Bury St Edmunds Abbey. The part of the legend AVE REX GEnTIS refers to an anthem sung there. There are some 450 Boy Bishop tokens recorded on PAS and all but a few were found within 40 miles of the Abbey.

They were produced in denominations of penny, half groat and groat. They would be distributed by the Boy Bishop to local children and the poor who could redeem them for sweetmeats and alms at the Abbey or the local St Nicholas Guild.

Selection of other finds

Photo: Surrey County Council CC BY SA2.0

Jews Harp

A jew’s harp dating to c. 1500 – 1800. On one side of the head is the rabbet which would have held the iron tongue that was plucked to produce the note. Jews harps or jews trumps have been around for many centuries.
Photo: Kent County Council CC By 2.0

Henry V noble

Noble of Henry V, class E; mint of London. Designated as a Find of Note.
Photo: Hampshire Cultural Trust CC BY SA2.0

Bulla of Innocent VI

A papal bulla of Innocent VI. The form and use of these were detailed in my article “PAS: Finds Review – to 5 March 2021″. The PAS have designated this one as a Find of Note: Regional Importance due to its excellent preservation.
Photo: The Portable Antiquities Scheme CC By 2.0

Cuthred of Kent, penny

Obverse legend reads CUDRED REX CANT, for King Cuthred and Canterbury mint. Reverse legend reads SIGEBERTHI MONETA, giving the moneyer as Sigeberht.
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2 years ago

Thanks for including my bulla! 🙂 Sorry the picture’s not great, the FLO will probably take a better photo once I can take it in.

2 years ago
Reply to  Richard

Great find. Photos are fine and thanks for allowing them to be shared on the PAS record.