Stunning 700-year-old gold seal, discovered near Banbury, goes on display at the Oxfordshire Museum

Residents can view a rare piece of Oxfordshire history - discovered near Banbury - as the Epwell Seal Matrix goes on display at the Oxfordshire Museum.

Monday, 1st November 2021, 10:29 am
Updated Monday, 1st November 2021, 10:40 am
The amazing, gold Epwell seal which dates back to the 13th century and has been bought for the Oxfordshire Museum
The amazing, gold Epwell seal which dates back to the 13th century and has been bought for the Oxfordshire Museum

The seal, which is a unique survival from the 13th century, was first discovered in the parish of Epwell, just a few miles west of Banbury, back in 2015.

It was purchased by the museums service for display in the county after a fundraising campaign.

Councillor Neil Fawcett, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services and Safety said: “It is wonderful news that we’ve been able to bring this historic artifact back to Oxfordshire.

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“This seal is particularly notable for it’s superb quality and excellent condition. There’s much we don’t know yet about this seal, including who may have been the owner, and where they were from, but that is what makes the find all the more intriguing.

“This is a chance for local residents to see a piece of Oxfordshire history.”

A seal matrix was used to make an impression on a wax seal to validate a document or to seal it closed. The Epwell seal matrix is made of gold, with a dark green jasper setting, called an intaglio. The intaglio was believed to have been intricately engraved in either Paris or London and depicts the portrait, in profile, of an unknown female.

It hasn’t been possible to identify the owner of the seal, who could have been somebody simply passing through the area, but it is likely to have been a symbol of the wealth, status and power of its owner.

The seal was purchased by the Museums Service with support from the Headley Trust, V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Friends of The Oxfordshire Museum.

Find out more about upcoming events and collections at the museum by going to the Oxfordshire County Council website at oxfordshire.gov.uk/residents/leisure-and-culture/museums/oxfordshire-museum