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Archaeology goes romantic for Valentine’s Day

12 February 2015 by Liz

Cuff link 1

Today we have a guest blog from Vanessa Oakden, Finds Liaison Officer for Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

In our new Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) display at the Museum of Liverpool you can now see some disclaimed treasure items which have been kindly lent by their finders. These finds have a romantic Valentine’s Day theme.

These silver cuff links are decorated on the outer face with a raised design in the form of two hearts with a crown above. Cuff links and buttons with this design are considered to have originally been produced to commemorate the marriage of Charles II to Catherine of Braganza (1662), but continued to be used as a general symbol of love and/or marriage (Lewis 2013). These would have been bought in much the same way as many of us may have bought mugs or other souvenirs to celebrate the marriage of William and Kate.

Fede ringAnother romantic find is this ‘fede’ type finger ring which dates from the 15th to the early 16th century. Although damaged due to the plough, the bezel area is in the form of two clasped hands. The lower or left hand (viewed facing the object) crosses behind the upper hand with the fingers curved over the top. The clasped hands motif originated during the Roman period; however it became popular across Europe in the 15th century, with fede rings being given at the time of betrothal or marriage, the name taken from the Italian le mani in fede (hands in faith/trust). The hands on medieval examples are usually moulded in relief and most are shown with sleeve cuffs; in some cases the hands are surmounted by a crown.

While a gold seal ring has much more of a practical and less sentimental use it can perhaps be linked to a local family in Cheshire, namely a family called Middleton living at Winchelsea and subsequently at Horsham in Sussex.

seal ring

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) funded project to encourage the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales. The Museum of Liverpool hosts the PAS officer for the region, and there are regular events at local museums and metal-detecting clubs where people can report their finds.  Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, many of these by metal-detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work. These finds were all reported under the 1996 Treasure Act and have since been disclaimed by the coroner. To find out more about the Portable Antiquities Scheme and treasure visit http://finds.org.uk/treasure.

Lewis, M, 2013 ‘Crown and Heart’ Buttons and Cufflinks Datasheet 46, 46.

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