Seals and their Context in the Middle Ages (Hardback)
Seals and their Context in the Middle Ages offers an extensive overview of approaches to and the potential of sigillography, as well as introducing a wider readership to the range, interest and artistry of medieval seals. Seals were used throughout medieval society in a wide range of contexts: royal, governmental, ecclesiastical, legal, in trade and commerce and on an individual and personal level. The fourteen papers presented here, which originate from a conference held in Aberystwyth in April 2012, focus primarily on British material but there is also useful reference to continental Europe. The volume is divided into three sections looking at the history and use of seals as symbols and representations of power and prestige in a variety of institutional, dynastic and individual contexts, their role in law and legal practice, and aspects of their manufacture, sources and artistic attributes. Importantly and distinctively, the volume moves beyond the study of high status seals to consider such themes as the social and economic status of seal-makers, the nature and meaning – including reflections of deliberate wit and boastfulness – of specific motifs employed at various levels of society, and the distribution of seals in relation to the location of, for instance, religious institutions and along major routeways. In so doing, it sets out ways in which sigillography can open new pathways into the study of non-elites and their cultures in medieval society.