News and Events
In addition to the Newsletter available to our members, SIGILLVM publicizes news and events such as conferences and recent publications.
4th International Round Table of Seal Conservators
The report of the latest meeting of seal conservators at the Archives Nationales, Paris, on 16 June 2016 is now available through the website.
15 Jan 2017
Provenance and Season of Production of Beeswax
There has been much discussion recently in SIGILLVM about the wax used for sealing. In this article Anton Zeven explains how the composition of surviving beeswax might hold the clue to location and season of its production.
14 Nov 2016
Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery
The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, is currently hosting an exhibition on opus anglicanum, highly-prized medieval embroidery, which survives through a variety of vestments and objects. Among the items on display are seal bags, embroidered with decorative motifs and arms.
The exhibition runs until 5 February 2017. Tickets start at £12.00, with concessions available.
29 Oct 2016
Un grand sceau dans l’histoire de la Touraine
A study day on 18 October 2016, 14:00-18:00 at the Hôtel du Département, Tours. This event marks the restoration of the ancient great seal to the charter of Louis le Pieux from 837.
10 Oct 2016
Review of new book on coins and seals
A review by Marie-Adélaïde Nielen of a new book on coins and seals, edited by Susan Solway has been published on the website for the journal Francia-Recensio (2016/2).
01 August 2016
News and events from the Société française d'héraldique et de sigillographie (SFHS)
The Société française d'héraldique et de sigillographie (SFHS) has several lectures each year on seals. An upcoming talk by Ewa Kozaczkiewicz, « À propos des sceaux de chanoines polonais », is scheduled for 19 May 2016.
20 April 2016
Silver seal matrix acquired by the Manx Museum, Douglas
The Manx Museum, Douglas, on the Isle of Man has recently acquired a silver seal matrix for its collections with the assistance of the Art Fund in the UK. The matrix was found on the island several years ago, and is ecclesiastical, suggested by the two figures facing outwards and a third kneeling figure and a legend that refers to St German and St Patrick. The matrix has been dated to 1315-1330, and was found close to a gold ring on the same site.
01 April 2016
New publication on forensic and anthropological analysis of human hairs in seals
Philippe Charlier, Marie-Adélaïde Nielen, Anaïs Augias, Agnès Prévost, Raphaël Weil and Britta McMullan-Weitzel have published a new article in Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology on forensic and anthropological analysis of human hairs in Merovingian and Carolingian royal seals.
14 March 2016
Richard Rawlinson and His Seal Matrices
The Rawlinson collection of seal matrices in the University of Oxford is the most important early collection of European seal matrices to survive. Created by Dr Richard Rawlinson (1690-1755) in the first half of the eighteenth century, it consists of 830 matrices ranging in date from the 13th to the early 18th century.
This book, written by John Cherry for the Ashmolean Museum, has four introductory chapters which set the scene for the collecting of seal matrices, tell the life of Richard Rawlinson and Giovanni Andrea Lorenzani, analyse their collections and relate the history of the collection after Rawlinson's death in 1755.
One hundred seals, all illustrated, are described in detail, with much unpublished data, and an indication is given of the contribution they make to the sigillography of the different countries.
8 March 2016
Discovery of Hairs in Merovingian Seals
Agnès Prévost of the Archives Nationales, Paris, has published the results of a study into hairs found embedded in the wax of Merovingian seals. The article can be found on the website Sciences et Avenir.
08 March 2016
New additions to the Rassweiler Collection online
7 new matrices and seals have been added to the Rassweiler Collection Online for February 2016. The medieval matrices and seals home page carousel now displays 7 images of these recently uploaded items. The Catalogues menu includes 2 options related to accessing the new additions directly:
22 Feb 2016
Colloque international "Circulations juridiques et pratiques culturelles en Europe au Moyen Âge (XIIIe – XVe siècle) - Medieval Europe in Motion 3" - Lisboa 25-27 février 2016
Le colloque international Medieval Europe in Motion 3 poursuit la série de rencontres scientifiques inaugurée en 2013 par l’Institut d’Études Médiévales (IEM) de l’Université Nouvelle de Lisbonne sur la thématique des mobilités artistiques et culturelles en Europe au Moyen Âge. L’objectif principal de ce nouveau colloque, en continuité thématique avec les deux éditions précédentes, est d’analyser les phénomènes de circulation et de mobilité des élites lettrées (clercs, universitaires, praticiens), des enlumineurs, des manuscrits, des textes, des modèles artistiques et des idées liés à la pratique du droit dans le territoire européen avec une attention particulière pour les contrées méridionales (péninsule Ibérique, France du Midi et Italie).
La recherche qui soutien l'idée de ce colloque derive du projet de post-doctorat de Maria Alessandra Bilotta, qui vise à mettre en évidence les liens artistiques et culturels entre le Portugal et le reste de l'Europe, avec un accent particulier sur les manuscrits juridiques des régions du sud (de la péninsule ibérique, sud de la France et de la péninsule italienne).
COMITE D’ORGANISATION Maria Alessandra Bilotta (IEM-FCSH-UNL) – Coordinatrice Francisco José Díaz Marcilla (IEM-FCSH-UNL) – Organisateur Mario Farelo (IEM-FCSH-UNL) – Organisateur
SECRETARIAT D’ORGANISATION : Anabel Moreno (Universidad de Girona – TEMPLA)
Download the flyer (PDF, 1.3 MB )
22 Feb 2016
Les Sciences à l'heure médiévale
A podcast from Les Rendez-vous de l’histoire featuring Agnes Prevost discussing methods of scientific investigation and conservation of historical documents and seals.
22 Feb 2016
Call for papers: 4th international Round Table of seal conservators, Paris, 16 June 2016. Collections of seals: materials and storage
The 4th international Round Table of seal conservators will take place in Paris on 16 June 2016. It is being organised jointly by the Archives nationales and by Sigillvm, the international society for the study of seals. Offering opportunities for meeting and exchanging information with colleagues, the international Round Tables on seals are occasions for getting to know more about European collections of seals and for setting up co-operation between specialists
01 Feb 2016
Imprint Project (funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council) – University of Lincoln and Aberystwyth University
Medieval seals were the equivalent of modern-day signatures in legal terms, but unlike signatures, the combination of image and text enabled their owners to represent themselves in a certain way. By the fourteenth century men and women across society owned and used seal matrices; some were bespoke and some bought off the shelf – but all were necessary to validate any legal document with which the seal’s owner was connected. Now, in the first project of its kind, Imprint will merge cutting-edge forensic techniques with traditional historical investigation to analyse the fingerprints and palm prints found on the back of wax seals, leading to new discoveries about social constructs and legal practices of the time, as well as provide data which will help current identity science experts.
01 Feb 2016
Book launch at Seals and Status 800-1700 conference
Two new publications were launched at the recent Seals and Status 800-1700 conference at the British Museum (4-6 December 2015).
Medieval Coins and Seals: Constructing Identity, Signifying Power, edited by Professor Susan Solway (DePaul University), is published by Brepols.
Art of Documentation: Documents and Visual Culture in Medieval England, by Dr Jessica Berenbeim (Oxford University), is published by the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies.
09 Dec 2015
Digitization Workshop at the British Museum
Members of Sigillvm met at the Study Room of the British Museum in London on the 3 December 2015 following the group's Board Meeting.
Recent cataloguing projects, digital photography and bibliographic data were presented by Lloyd de Beer (British Museum), Marc Libert (State Archives of Belgium, Brussels) and John McEwan (St Louis University).
Further information on how Sigillvm members can contribute to these projects will be available soon.
09 Dec 2015
Call for papers International Medieval Meeting Lleida 2016
6th International Medieval Meeting Lleida 2016
20-22 June 2016
SPECIAL STRAND 2016 "MEDITERRANEAN MEDIEVAL STUDIES"
Enrolment open for papers and sessions from 1 December 2015 until 18 March 2016
Enrolment open for attendees from 1 December 2015 until 27 May 2016
The 6th International Medieval Meeting Lleida takes place in Lleida from 20-22 June 2016. It's organised by Grup de Recerca Consolidat en Estudis Medievals "Espai, Poder i Cultura" (Universitat de Lleida). The participants can present sessions and individual papers on different aspects of research in the history of the Middle Ages or sessions dedicated to the promotion and management of research, the application of new technologies in the Humanities and the promotion of historical heritage. Furthermore, there will be important presentations concerning the publication and dissemination of research in medieval history. These events will take place in our university, located in the medieval city of Lleida, where you will be able to enjoy a wide range of cultural and leisure activities.
Further information is available from the website:
09 Dec 2015
38,000 seal casts now online at the State Archives of Belgium
The National Archives of Belgium has one of the largest collection of seal casts in the world. Until recently, some 38,000 casts and descriptions were only available for consultation in the reading room of the National Archives of Belgium, but now the entire collection is available on the institution's website.
21 Oct 2015
Lecture on the BIBALE database at the Archives nationales, Paris, 15 October 2015
Hanno WIJSMAN (CNRS-IRHT) and Hélène LOYAU will present on 'BIBALE (IRHT- CNRS) : les marques de propriété et l’héraldique du livre', from the Section of codicology, history of libraries and heraldry of the Institute for research and history of the texts (IRHT).
Venue: Salle d'albâtre des Archives nationales, entrée rue des Quatre fils. 75003, Paris.
Date and time: 15 October 2015, before 17:00.
11 Oct 2015
Seals and Status 800-1700 - conference booking now open
Jointly organised by the British Museum and Sigillvm, this three-day international conference aims to foster a discussion about seals and status concentrating on three broad themes: seals and social status, seals and institutional status, and the status of seals as objects. Booking is now open through the British Museum.
06 Oct 2015
Video on Seal Tomography from the Archives départementales de Seine-Maritime
The Archives départementales de Seine-Maritime have released a video of investigation into the material and internal structure of seal impressions of the archbishops of Rouen from the 12th century.
27 Sept 2015
Russian Bale Seals Website
The PeaceHavens Project website provides information on finds of Russian bale seals and lead trading tokens from the 18th and 19th centuries. These seals were attached to shipments of flax plants exported from Russia to mills in the north of England and Scotland.
27 Sept 2015
New forensic and historical investigation of fingerprints on medieval seals
Imprint: A forensic and historical investigation of fingerprints on medieval seals is a major new UK Arts & Humanities Research Council funded research project combining forensics and historical analysis of fingerprints on medieval wax seals. Working alongside forensics experts, the project team will consider how information about the finger and hand prints deposited on the back of medieval wax seals develops our understanding of networks of power, exchange and authority, the performative act of sealing as ritual, and legal and administrative developments. The forensic scientists will also be using the data to test ideas of the viability of prints over time, identifying overlaid sets of prints, and the uniqueness of prints.
20 Sept 2015
Seals and Status 800-1700 - British Museum Friday 4 to Sunday 6 December 2015
The themes for this conference, organised jointly by Sigillvm and the British Museum, will focus on:
- Seals and Social status
- Seals and Institutional status
- Seals as objects
The event will be only conference to focus on sigillography in the UK in the last three years, and Sigillvm and the British Museum hopes it will follow and build on the success of the 2012 conference on the topic of 'Seals and their context in the Middle Ages' (University of Aberystwyth, April 2012). The organisers Lloyd de Beer, John Cherry and Dr. Jessica Berenbeim are currently preparing the full programme for release in September. Confirmed keynote speakers are: Professor Brigitte Bedos-Rezak; Professor Sandy Heslop; Dr. Adrian Ailes and Professor David Crouch. The conference will be advertised and promoted through the British Museum website, and application for a place should be made through the British Museum website after September.
12 Aug 2015
New additions to the Rassweiler Collection online
The Catalogues menu includes 2 new options related to accessing the new additions directly:
08 Aug 2015
Meeting in Brussels, Belgium, 29 May 2015
The Board of Sigillvm met at the Belgian State Archives in Brussels, hosted by Dr Marc Libert, on 29 May 2015.
A visit was also arranged to the conservation section of the Archives to view current work on the conservation and recording of seal matrices.
03 June 2015
800th Anniversary of Magna Carta
15 June marks the 800th anniversary of the agreement of King John of England called the Great Charter of Liberties, or Magna carta libertatum. Professor Paul Harvey discusses the commonly held belief that Magna Carta was signed by the king, tracing instead the practice of sealing for authentication, rather than the sign manual (signature).
Read more (PDF, 149KB)
18 May 2015
Service des Sceaux reopened at the Archives Nationales, Paris
The department of sigillography at the Archives Nationales, Paris, is now installed at the CARAN (Centre d'accueil et de recherche des Archives nationales), rue des Quatre Fils, Paris. On 7 April 2015, Clément Blanc (département du Moyen Âge et de l'Ancien Régime) presented on the research and consultation possibilities for the sigillographic collections.
Rassweiler Collection Online
The private collection of Dr John Rassweiler of medieval seal matrices is now available to view online. The pictures and available data are being presented to the public for use in educational and research projects; and to stimulate those with related medieval interests in art, history, religion and life styles, to consider using these very personal possessions of the common people of the medieval times.
18 Feb 2015
Recent seal matrix finds in England published
An article by Anni Byard and Clive Cheeseman on the seal matrix of Fulk Fitzwarin [PAS BERK-FDCFD2] appears in The Coat of Arms, autumn 2014, no. 228, third series, vol. X, part 2, pp. 120-121, published by The Heraldry Society.
Short notes appear in the same volume (pp. 113-4) on a post medieval gold signet ring found in the Tarvin area of Cheshire [PAS LVPL-BE9E74], (there is a discussion of the identification of the arms by Becky Dobson), a post medieval seal matrix found at Beckermet, Cumberland [PAS LANCUM-8C4924](discussion of heraldry by Stuart Noon), and a silver seal matrix by made by Hester Bateman [PAS WILT-4CB7B3] found at Poole Keynes, Gloucestershire, and dated to between 1760-90.
15 Jan 2015
Seals and Status 800-1700 - Call for Papers
A call for papers has been released for a conference at the British Museum 4-6 December 2015 on the subject of seals and status.
06 Jan 2015
Over 30,000 seal casts now available online
The State Archives of Belgium in Brussels has made the Laurent catalogue of seal casts available online for the first time. The online database is searchable and contains digital photographs of the items in the collection.
04 Jan 2015
New educational resources online from the British Museum
Educational resources on medieval seals and badges have been made available by the British Museum online.
04 Jan 2015
Portable Antiquities Scheme (UK)
Broken equestrian seal matrix BERK-FDCFD2.
This new Find in 2014 is an incomplete medieval copper alloy circular seal matrix of Fulk III FitzWarin, Lord of Whitington, Shropshire. The seal is inscribed SIGILLUM F[ULCONIS FIL]II WARINI (seal of Fulk Fitz Warin). The seal matrix is large with a diameter of c.54mm. The engraving in extremely good condition bears the image of a helmeted knight (FitzWarin) on horseback, charging right with shield in left hand and sword raised behind body in the right. The image is so well detailed that chainmail, folds in the surcoat, shield and swordbelt strap and the slit and grill in the helmet are all clearly visible. On the shield can be seen half of the blazon of FitzWarin's arms, Quarterly per fess indented argent and gules. The reverse of the matrix is plain and undecorated with several scratches caused post-deposition. The matrix was found in Berkshire but Fulk III FitzWarin was Lord of Whittington in Shropshire. Adrian Ailes (of the TNA) has commented ‘An impression of a seal of a Fulk FitWarin exists in The National Archives attached to a release dated 5 August 1258 (TNA E 40/6195), but the relationship of this to the newly found seal is needs explanation’. For this see the publication in the next Coat of Arms, by Clive Cheeseman, Adrian Ailes and Anni Byard . The Coat of Arms is the Journal of the Heraldry Society see http://www.theheraldrysociety.com/home.htm
A full description by Anni Byard, Finds Liaison Officer, can be found on the Portable Antiquities Scheme Website using the reference BERK-FDCFD2.
18 Dec 2014
New catalogue from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France
The Bibliothèque Nationale de France has published the catalogue Matrices des Sceaux du Moyen Âge, Département des Monnaies, Médailles et Antiques by Ambre Vilain. It includes 1021 matrices. This collection in the Bibliothèque Nationale is one of the largest collections of seal matrices in Europe. It contains matrices from all levels of society from the Queen Constance of Castile to the shoemaker, from the University of Paris to the Bishop of Squillace, (Italy), from the Chartreuse de Miraflores to the Lady Dauphine de Broc. Everyone interested in medieval seal matrices should read it.
It is obtainable form the Service Commercial of the BnF, Quai Francois Mauriac, 75706 Paris, Cedex 13.
18 Dec 2014
At the Time Lines sale in London on Thursday 4 December 2014, Lot 0744, the extraordinarily high price of £125,000 was realised for a copper alloy seal matrix for the Coket of Dunfermline abbey in Scotland.
The double seal matrix of the Cocket of Dunfermline Abbey was engraved in 1322 when the King Robert the Bruce confirmed the grant of the Great Custom of Wool, Skins and Leather to the Abbey of Dunfermline. The obverse depicts St Margaret, founder and benefactress of the Abbey between two shields, one bearing the royal arms of Scotland and the other the arms of Dunfermline Abbey. The reverse depicts the royal arms of Scotland.
18 Dec 2014
New publication on the seals of the Kings of Jerusalem
A new book has been released by Hanns Eberhard Mayer and Claudia Sode, entitled Die Siegel der lateinischen Könige von Jerusalem. (Monumenta Germaniae Historica Schriften 66.) Weisbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz, 2014. Pp. xxvi, 277; 44 black-and-white figures and 2 tables. ISBN: 978-3-447-10156-1.
18 Dec 2014
Leeds International Medieval Congress 2015
Sigillvm has organised a session at this Congress which will be held from Monday July 6th to Thursday July 9th, 2015 The session (no. 1303) will be called Old Seals : New Visions, and it will be chaired by Professor P D A Harvey and the three speakers will be Dr Matthew Sillence, Laura Evans, and John Cherry.
04 Dec 2015
Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, July 2014
The Board of Sigillvm met at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, hosted by James Robinson on 4 July 2014.
A visit was also arranged to the General Register Office (part of the National Archives of Scotland) to view several seal impressions and casts from their collections.
01 Aug 2014
A curiosity of Merovingian and Carolingian sealing: the presence of hair in seals
Recent research, both historical and forensic work, has helped to highlight strange fibres in several royal seals of the Merovingian and Carolingian eras, which proved to be human hair.
Agnès Prevost discusses the findings in a video from the Archives Nationales, Paris.
9 Mar 2014
The Seals in Context: Medieval Wales and the Welsh Marches virtual exhibition
Seals in Medieval Wales project virtual exhibition, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, provides a first opportunity to share with a wider audience some of the exciting material gathered as part of the project. Among the main questions addressed by both the project and the exhibition are:
- Who used seals in medieval Wales and the Marches and in what contexts?
- What was the range of motifs and words employed on medieval Welsh and Marcher seals?
- How can seals add to our understanding of how medieval people thought about and presented themselves?
- What do seals reveal about family and lineage, power and politics, economy and exchange, women and gender and religious life in medieval Wales and the Marches?
Find out more at the exhibition site.
02 Feb 2014
Meeting in Budapest, Hungary October 2013
The Board of Sigillvm met at the Central European University, hosted by Professor Zsolt Hunyadi on 28 October 2013.
Professor Hunyadi also arranged a visit to the Hungarian National Archives to view a selection of magnificent medieval documents and their original seals. The group was also invited to view the Kumorovitz seal cast collection at the Budapest History Museum.