History

Bit of Medieval Stone found in Surrey field

The copper seal from Stone Augustinian Priory is over 800 years' old

A piece of Stone’s Medieval history has been found by a metal detector in a field in Surrey.

The remarkable copper object – dated between 1200 and 1300AD – was found in Cobham in August. It’s a seal that would have been used to create a seal of wax on important documents at Stone Priory.

It is about 7cm long, 5cm wide and weighs just 84 grams.

All that remains of Stone Priory in the grounds of the rectory

The Priory existed on the site of St Michael and St Wulfad’s Church, which was built in the 1750s after Stone Priory – which had been on the site since 670AD – collapsed. Much of the Priory’s stone was used to build the new church and a rectory was constructed over the Priory’s remaining vaulted crypt.

Stone Priory church was dedicated to Mary and a local seventh century martyr Saint Wulfad. There is no known connection between Stone and the find spot in Cobham, Surrey.

Philip Leason, the chairman of Stone Historical and Civic Society, received a telephone call earlier this month from David Williams, the Finds Liaison Officer for Surrey. Part of David’s job is to identify and catalogue archaeological items found in Surrey and a man had reported an item which he thought people in Stone may like to know about.

Philip said: “While using a metal detector in a field at Cobham in Surrey on Monday 22nd August he discovered a small metal object and had taken it to David for identification.

A close-up of the seal showing the name of Wulfad

“It turns out that the object was a seal which would have been used to be impressed in wax on important documents. The seal depicts the Virgin Mary with the child Jesus on her knee. The child holds a book in this left hand and appears to be pointing upwards with his right.

“The inscription around the seal reads ‘S’ecc Sce Marie et Sci W(v)lfadi Martiris de Stanis’ – the seal of the church of Saint Mary and Saint Wulfad, Martyr of Stone. It’s the seal of the old Stone Priory.

“The seal is very well preserved although there is a small amount of surface concretion. To be honest, it’s a mystery how the seal of Stone Priory found its way to a field in Surrey. But it’s a fascinating find.”

Although it is uncertain where the seal will eventually be kept, Philip is currently in discussions with its finder and it is hoped that the seal will be displayed in Stone for a period.

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