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Yorkshire wit?

British Museum reveals its more unusual finds of 2020

The British Museum revealed some of the more unusual finds of 2020, the vast majority being found by detectorists.

Their highlighted item was a Medieval silver gilt mount, which was found by a detectorist in Wakefield in September 2020 (PAS ID: SWYOR-4E467E) . It depicts a knight emerging from a snail on the back of what appears to be a goat. It may be an example of 13th century Yorkshire wit, although exactly what the joke was remains a mystery. In manuscripts at the time, snails were thought to refer to cowardly or non-chivalric behaviour.

One of the other unusual items in the report is the Medieval gold seal matrix, shown below (PAS ID: NMS-CB2CBE) . It is inset with a stone, probably carnelian, that depicts an elephant and castle.

Although few people in medieval England would have seen an elephant, there was one in the royal menagerie of Henry III between 1255-57.

The inscription reads * PARMAT EST ‧ WEVEI ‧ DRA OBEST which is thought to mean ‘armed with a shield, the outlaw dragon is harmful’

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