Furness’ finest on display

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Two rare archaeological treasures that may have once belonged to a Medieval abbot are to go on display at Furness Abbey, Cumbria, over the May bank holiday weekend (Fri 4-Mon 7 May).

The silver-gilt head of a crosier and a ring set with a white gemstone were discovered in 2010 when emergency repair work at the English Heritage property uncovered an 12th-century grave in what would have been the abbey’s presbytery, the most prestigious position in the church.

Thought to have belonged to an as-yet unidentified abbot, the objects would have been clear reminders of their owner’s status. The head of his crosier, or staff of office, was made of gilded copper and decorated with silver medallions showing the  Archangel Michael defeating a dragon, while the ring’s rock crystal or white sapphire might cover a hollow containing a relic.

Kevin Booth, Senior Curator for English Heritage, said: ”This is a very rare find which underlines the Abbey’s status as one of the great power bases of the Middle Ages. While we don’t yet know the identity of the abbot, he was clearly someone important and respected by the monastic community. Given that the crozier and ring have been buried for over 500 years, they are in remarkable condition. Further research is required but before that we are inviting the public to come to Furness Abbey on the early May Bank Holiday and see these wonderful finds.’

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