NORFOLK Museums Service
Bathild Seal Matrix - Front View

Bathild Seal Matrix

This Middle Anglo-Saxon Seal matrix dates from about 650-680AD. It was found at Postwick in Norfolk by a metal detectorist.

Originally part of a signet ring, the engraved, circular, gold matrix is a remarkable and rare find. It would have been used to press a design into wax to seal letters. The seal originally swivelled on a gold bar that held it into the frame of the ring.

The two sides of the seal show very different designs. The front view shows a face beneath a cross. The face has a large, straight nose and flowing hair. The face is very unusual. It has been linked to a number of figures ranging from Jesus to the Germanic god Woden. Around the face are inscribed the words ‘BALdE hILDIS’. This was probably the name of the seal ring’s owner. Seals were rare and valuable objects, owned only by rich and important people. We know of one woman called Baldehildis or Balthilde who led a very remarkable life. She was an Anglo-Saxon sold as a slave who eventually married the Frankish king Clovis II and became queen. Later in her life she founded a monastery and after her death in 680AD was made a saint. The matrix is just over 1cm in diameter and 4mm deep. The rest of the ring hasn’t been found.

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