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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


Good impressions:
image and authority in medieval seals

11 January – 20 May 2007

Exhibition closed

Room 69a

The medieval period saw an unprecedented use of seals to validate legal documents and to protect personal correspondence. This exhibition features royal, Episcopal, ecclesiastic and aristocratic seals alongside those of towns and tradesmen to take a comprehensive look at how medieval people saw themselves.

Many of the secular seals are rare survivals of non-religious art showing the medieval fondness for nature and animals. High status seals include those of Robert Fitzwalter, principal among the barons who compelled King John to agree to Magna Carta and Isabella of Hainault, queen of Philip II of France. From the 1140s to the early 1300s, the aristocracy used small counterseals set with classical gems to demonstrate taste refinement and education.

The recent find from Swanley, Kent of a thirteenth century silver seal set with a gem portrait of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius (reigned AD 138-161) belongs to this category of seal and is on display for the first time.

Seal-die of Robert Fitzwalter

Seal-die of Robert Fitzwalter. The coat of arms of an English baron. Medieval, about AD 1213-19. From England.