Thursday 14 February 2013

Love is in the Air!

It's Valentine's Day and we're feeling heart-y in the archaeology and numismatics department. A recent acquisition is this beautiful seventeenth century bleeding heart seal.

One of a number of post-medieval seals discovered by metal-detectorists and recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Leeds Museums were able to acquire the seal through generous donations. It shows a heart with an arrow through it with four drops of blood below. In addition it has the inscription “thy uertu merits more” (Your Virtue Merits More).

Usually seen as an amatory token, several of these have been found and recorded through the PAS. Ours is special because it still has the delicate hinge that held the seal and its back piece together and is particularly finely made. However, the seal may be much more than a love token. There has been recent debate as to whether these seals may have had a religious rather than a romantic significance. Some interpretations relate its symbolism to that of the Christian Sacred Heart which alludes to Christ's death and the transformative power of divine love. Regardless of which interpretation you agree with, I'm sure you'll agree it is a beautiful addition to the collections here in Leeds.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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