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Rare Medieval artefact discovered on holiday walk

By tobymeyjes  |  Posted: December 19, 2013

  • The piedfort, discovered in Boscastle, last year is the first of its kind to be found in the South West

  • The 13th century silver seal matrix was found near St Hilary

  • The silver button has been dated to the 17th Century

  • The 16th Century Post-Medieval silver button was found near St Blazey

  • The silver seal matrix, found near Sithney, was not classified as treasure

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The first rare Medieval artefact of its kind to be discovered in the South West was only uncovered when a car mechanic stumbled upon it while on holiday in Cornwall.

But it wasn’t until Tony Hadland showed the item to one his customers - an expert on Medieval coinage - back in Gloucestershire that he realised the true value of his find.

The piedfort, a non-functional coin most likely used as a reckoning counter, is a copy of a coin-type issued by King John II of France around 1360.

The artefact, discovered by Mr Hadland while walking on National Trust land in Boscastle, was only about the eighth recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

The intriguing find was one of a number to be classified as treasure at an inquest in Truro on Wednesday.

Other items included a 17th century silver button, a 13th century silver seal matrix and 16th Century silver dress hook.

Anna Tyacke, finds liaison officer for Cornwall for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, said they were very lucky to come across the item.

“It was found at Boscastle by a holidaymaker from Gloucestershire, who took it back home. I don’t think he realised how important it was or that it was Medieval,” she said.

“He just happened to be the car mechanic for our finds adviser, who deals with Medieval coinage. So the car mechanic said ‘oh well I know you know about Medieval coins, so what do you think this is?’ and he was quite surprised because they are very rare objects.

“We’ve only got about eight on the database.They don’t come up and I think this is the first from the South West as far as I know.”

The piedfort is in the process of being purchased by the Royal Cornwall Museum for an, as yet, unknown fee.

Reckoning counters were typical used in Medieval computation but Mrs Tyacke said the hole visible in the Boscastle coin meant it had been perforated to be used as jewellery

She said: “The piedfort which just means a heavy foot, its basically is just a reckoning counter not a weight, although its about the weight of six of the coins it represents.

“It looks like a coin and this one has been perforated to look like a pendant, its basically been reused as jewellery.”

The 13th century silver seal matrix is also in the process of being acquired by Penlee Museum in Penzance.

The item, which was discovered in St Hilary Parish by David Edwards from Penzance, is inscribed, in old French, ‘Ie Svy De Amvrs’, which translates to ‘I am (the seal) of love’ in modern English.

A further seal matrix, which was discovered in Sithney Parish near Helston, was not classified as treasure because it couldn’t be accurately dated.

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