Sealed And Finally Delivered
On Thursday, 18th., of March 2004, an important find of a silver double seal die was made in a field near Newark, Nottinghamshire by metal detectorist Norman Daynes. The seal was later described in a ‘Provisional Treasure Valuation’ as ‘One of the most attractive English seal-dies extant. It is a rare form. I can find no commercial precedent……’
I would like to give a chronological account of the circumstances that led up to, and the events that followed this remarkable discovery. In order to do this properly I feel I must introduce you to the finder of the seal, a most remarkable man, Norman Daynes. Of course past and present members of the Ashfield Metal Detecting Club need no introduction to him. Norman was one of the first members of the club when it was formed in 1994 and now at eighty years of age he is still an active club member, hardly missing a club night or indeed a club search throughout all this time. He has attended searches in the foulest of weather, on days when even a dog wouldn’t let you take it for a walk. The metal detector he used to find the seal was a Hawkeye bought five months earlier to replace his ancient Laser B1. He is a skilled and dedicated detectorist, this is confirmed by his enviable club record of twenty ‘Find of the Month’ and two ‘Find of the Year’ awards to date.
The seal was found on farmland close to Shelton, Nottinghamshire, a small village near to the River Devon and not far from the A46, the Roman Fosse Way. The village has a small church with a double bellcote and a Norman doorway. Signs of Saxon fragments can be found in the fabric of the building. The site of the find and adjacent fields have been well searched, by up to fifteen members of the Ashfield Club at a time, since Norman’s find. Apart from pre decimal, Victorian and the odd Georgian coin, as yet, nothing else of any significance has been found.
Finding the seal.
On the morning of Thursday, the 18th. of March, 2004, fourteen hardy members of the Ashfield Metal Detecting Club started their weekly search, at Shelton. It was cold and a persistent drizzle kept everyone in waterproofs. The search site consisted of two fairly large fields and a smaller patch of land, with stubble and weeds in abundance, that had been left untouched from the previous year. After three hours or so of this miserable and uncomfortable weather Norman decided to pack it in for the day. As far as he knew no one had found very much and a Georgian halfpenny was leading the finds stakes.
So wet and a little disheartened he made his way back to his car, to do this he had to pass over the small weed infested area. Never the one to carry his detector, when he could swing it, he detected on the patches where the covering of weeds was thin enough to do so. A few minutes into this he received a positive signal, he dug about three inches deep and then like magic his discomfort disappeared for in his hand lay a beautiful silver double ended seal. After showing his find to the other members at the search he took the seal home, washed it carefully and packed it in cotton wool.
Reporting the find.
As soon as he could
arrange a meeting Norman visited the landowner, showed him the seal and
explained his obligations as the finder under the Treasure Act that, as
he believed the seal to be over three hundred years old and it
obviously contained over ten percent silver, he had to report the
finding of it within fourteen days. The landowner agreed to this and
subsequently Norman handed over the seal to Rachael Atherton, Finds Liaison
Officer for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Rachael took possession of
it and the next thing Norman knew was when he received a letter from The
Circumstances of discovery: While searching with a metal detector.
Description: Small silver seal-die, the two faces each with short faceted stems joined by an oval hoop. The larger face is engraved with a coat of arms, the smaller with a crest consisting of a male head surmounted by three feathers and the motto IE VOILE DROIT AVOIR (I will have justice). The precious metal content of the seal-die fulfils the requirements of the Treasure Act in that it is greater than 10%.
Note: The arms have been kindly identified by Clive Cheesman, Rouge Dragon Pursuivant at the College of Arms as those of the Warburtons of Arley, Cheshire; the seal may have been done for Peter Warburton of Arley (died 1626) or a close relative of his.
On the 19th., of November, 2004 a Coroner’s Inquest was held at Newark, Nottinghamshire, Norman attended it and heard the Coroner, Dr. Nigel Chapman, declare the seal was Treasure. He commended Norman for doing the right thing in reporting his find and said: “I am aware a lot of this stuff disappears. It is our heritage and the only way in which we know about our past is to keep our past. Many items go for private sale or are sold abroad.” A report of the Coroner’s inquest appeared in the Newark Advertiser on the 26th. of November 2004. Unfortunately the village, Shelton, near where the seal was found was named both by the Coroner and in the newspaper article.
Unable to purchase.
The next communication Norman received was dated the 18th., of August, 2005. This stated that as no museum is now able to acquire this find it was proposed to return it to Norman. However this would only be after the owner of the find site did not wish to pursue a claim to the seal through his common law rights as owner of the site. Vahini Sangarapillai, Secretariat to the Treasure Valuation Committee proposed to write to the find site owner and give him 28 days to lodge any objections. If an objection was received the seal would be retained in the safekeeping of the Crown until the ownership dispute was resolved.
Observations on the seal.
It is thought that the seal was most likely lost at Shelton by William Warburton, who possibly inherited it or even had it made for him, and that a connection is made between the Warburton family and the find site. The reasoning for this is - The seal was found near Shelton in Nottinghamshire, which is a long way from Arley in Cheshire, the ancestral seat of the Warburton family. In ‘Fairbairn’s Crests’ there is a near identical drawing of the Warburton Crest (Illustration 1) together with information that the family had Nottinghamshire connections. To support the Nottinghamshire connection, an extract of a 1579 Marriage Settlement (Illustration 2) relating to the marriage of Robert Markham of Cottam ( a village about three miles north of Shelton) and Ann Warburton daughter of Dame Mary Warburton , widow of Sir John Warburton of Arley, Cheshire, The manor and advowson of Shelton is included in the settlement. Ann Warburton died in 1601. The next family connection was that of William Warburton who, according to the Annuls of Newark by Cornelius Brown, fought in the Civil War and afterwards settled at Shelton Manor. He practiced as a lawyer at Newark eventually becoming the Coroner. This was, of course, during the 17th. Century and would fit in with the date given by the British Museum for the seal. Further research discovered that a 17th. century stone panel with William Warburton’s crest and coat of arms, nearly identical to those on the seal, was affixed to the one of the piers inside Shelton Church. (Illustrations 3 the panel and 4 the crest).
Due to the records and wills of the Warburton and connected families not being readily accessible this is as far as research can go at the moment but I feel many more interesting facts will come to light before the story of this magnificent seal is finally told.
This article was published in the June, 2006 issue of the Searcher Magazine and published on this website by permission of the editor, Ms. Harry Bains.
Observations on the length of time taken by the Treasure Act
Norman is upset at the length of time the process has taken as he says, "At eighty how long can I wait ?". Norman found the seal on the 18th of March 2004 and it was returned to him, by Rachael Atherton, the FLO, on the 7th of December 2005. A total of twenty full months. The Code of Practice states that when an object is identified as possibly being ‘Treasure’ that the finder has fifteen days to declare it otherwise draconian penalties (three months imprisonment or £5,000 fine) may be imposed. This seems to be unfair as there is no redress available against the authorities for their time wasting. Maybe an Ombudsman or ‘Off-finds’ complaints agency to investigate any delays is needed.
Illustrations (As numbered in text)
Extract from the marriage settlement 1579.(Illustration 2)
Illustrations (Not In Text)