Exploring Medieval Seals
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Dr Elizabeth New ean@aber.ac.uk / Dr Susan Davies sud@aber.ac.uk - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Exploring Medieval Seals : A case study in research and outreach Enhancing Impact, Inspiring Excellence Conference Birmingham, 4 September 2013. Dr Elizabeth New ean@aber.ac.uk / Dr Susan Davies sud@aber.ac.uk Prifysgol Aberystwyth University www.exploringmedievalseals.org.

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Dr elizabeth new ean aber ac uk dr susan davies sud aber ac uk

Exploring Medieval Seals: A case study in research and outreachEnhancing Impact, Inspiring Excellence ConferenceBirmingham, 4 September 2013

Dr Elizabeth New ean@aber.ac.uk /Dr Susan Davies sud@aber.ac.uk

Prifysgol Aberystwyth University


Dr elizabeth new ean aber ac uk dr susan davies sud aber ac uk

- 2009-12: Research project funded by the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council- To investigate seals and sealing practices across Wales and the Marches, c.1200-1550- To explore seals as a new resource for answering a range of questions about medieval society, economy, administration, law and culture

Exploring outreach through medieval seals
Exploring Outreach through Medieval Seals


Follow-on project, funded by the AHRC 2013-14, for outreach and engagement across the UK

Who was involved
Who was involved?

  • Professor Phillipp Schofield, Professor of Medieval History, specialist in economic and social history and Principal Investigator for SiMeW and ExOMS

  • Dr Elizabeth New, medievalist, special interests in social and religious history and author of Seals and Sealing Practices, British Records Association Archives & the User 11: Senior Researcher / Project Manager , SiMeW & ExOMS

  • Dr John McEwan, medievalist, specialising in the political & administrative history and prosopography of London, Researcher for both projects, directing digital outputs for ExOMS

  • Dr Susan Johns, (Bangor University) medievalist, special interest in the seals of noble women: Co-Investigator, SiMeW

Also involved
Also involved:

Knowledge Transfer Advisory Board (SiMeW and ExOMS):

  • Dr Susan Davies (Aberystwyth University): archive specialist

  • Professor Paul Harvey (University of Durham): seals expert

  • Professor Mark Ormrod (University of York): medievalist and experienced director of research initiatives


What have these projects done? Focusing on a wide range of seals and their across society between 12thC and c.1550 (rather than concentrating on formal high status or other specific categories of seals…..)

What did we do
What did we do?

  • Investigated 26 collections from 9 different repositories

  • Recorded c.3,200 impressions, all still attached to their parent document, from c.2,600 different seal matrices

  • Included all seal impressions within the temporal / geographic parameters: no ‘cherry-picking’ as in many previous studies

  • Data gathered from sealed

    instrument as a whole

Dr elizabeth new ean aber ac uk dr susan davies sud aber ac uk

How did we do it?-Custom-built database enabled large amounts of information about the sealed instruments to be gathered efficiently (Database programing: Dr John McEwan)- Built upon previous descriptive methods to establish a stable recording template and controlled vocabulary

Shropshire archives lilleshall deeds 428
Shropshire Archives, Lilleshall Deeds 428

  • Note: digital photography is a crucial research tool!

Dr elizabeth new ean aber ac uk dr susan davies sud aber ac uk
Also note: motif keyword tags are embedded in the photographic metadata to facilitate search and analysis

Who helped us
Who helped us? photographic

  • Good relationships with repositories (archivists, conservators) were essential

  • A close working relationship with Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / National Library of Wales was particularly important for SiMeW, and included a major public exhibition, April-September 2012

Why did we do this work
Why did we do this work? photographic

  • These projects have created opportunities to investigate many interdisciplinary questions about women and men across society, including:

    • Who used seals in medieval Wales and the English border counties, and in what contexts?

    • What range of images and words were employed on medieval seals in these areas?

    • How can seals inform our understanding of identities in medieval Wales and the Marches?

What is the wider context
What is the wider context? photographic

  • These projects have built on past experience, current enthusiasm, and future plans for recording and research in an international context

    • In 2012, a new online international network and forum for seal-studies was launched as: SIGILLVM www.sigillvm.net

A codicil
A Codicil! photographic

  • Close collaboration and mutual understanding between researchers and archivists is vital for success

  • Advance planning, sharing expertise and mutual recognition of professional values are essential

  • Knowledge transfer to wide audiences

    should be a key element in planning

    and delivery

    • These projects have provided professional

      development for heritage practitioners and

      new information for interested researchers at all levels