Priory seal makes Top 50 historical finds

The seal from Stone Priory

The Medieval seal from Stone Priory that was discovered by a metal detector in a field in Surrey will be revealed on ITV on Friday night as one of the top 50 historical finds in the UK.

Britain’s Secret Treasures – a collaboration between ITV1 and the British Museum – has been revealing the extraordinary treasures and historical artefacts discovered by ordinary people that have changed our understanding of British history.

Presented by award-winning journalist Michael Buerk and historian and author Bettany Hughes, the series maps out the 50 key discoveries recorded by the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme since it was set up 15 years ago.

The list has been compiled by Bettany and a panel of experts from the British Museum and The Council for British Archaeology. They’ve trawled through the almost one million finds of the last fifteen years, whittling them down to the top 50, with each one judged on its national importance and cultural and historic significance.

Friday night’s programme (ITV1, 8pm) counts down from 18 to 11 – and A Little Bit of Stone can reveal that the Medieval seal occupies one of those positions.

The remarkable copper seal – dated between 1200 and 1300AD – was found in Cobham in August last year. It 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.

Visitors look at the seal in December

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.

The seal returned to St Michael’s Church in December, with hundreds of local people visiting to see the remarkable piece of the town’s history. A fundraising campaign was launched to keep it in the town.

Stone Historical Society chairman Philip Leason said: “The reason why the seal is so important is the fact it’s one of the only seals from a priory that is still intact. When the monasteries closed the seals were either clipped or scored through, but as ours was taken before the closure of Stone Priory and likely to have been buried before the closure of the priory in Surrey, it remains intact.”

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