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Exploring Medieval Seals: A case study in research and outreach Enhancing Impact, Inspiring Excellence Exploring Medieval Seals: A case study in research and outreach Enhancing Impact, Inspiring Excellence Conference Birmingham, 4 September 2013 Dr Elizabeth New [email protected] ac. uk /Dr Susan Davies [email protected] ac. uk Prifysgol Aberystwyth University www. exploringmedievalseals. org

- 2009 -12: Research project funded by the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council - 2009 -12: Research project funded by the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council - To investigate seals and sealing practices across Wales and the Marches, c. 1200 -1550 - To explore seals as a new resource for answering a range of questions about medieval society, economy, administration, law and culture

Exploring Outreach through Medieval Seals Follow-on project, funded by the AHRC 2013 -14, for Exploring Outreach through Medieval Seals Follow-on project, funded by the AHRC 2013 -14, for outreach and engagement across the UK www. exploringmedievalseals. org

Who was involved? • Professor Phillipp Schofield, Professor of Medieval History, specialist in economic Who was involved? • Professor Phillipp Schofield, Professor of Medieval History, specialist in economic and social history and Principal Investigator for Si. Me. W and Ex. OMS • Dr Elizabeth New, medievalist, special interests in social and religious history and author of Seals and Sealing Practices, British Records Association Archives & the User 11: Senior Researcher / Project Manager , Si. Me. W & Ex. OMS • Dr John Mc. Ewan, medievalist, specialising in the political & administrative history and prosopography of London, Researcher for both projects, directing digital outputs for Ex. OMS • Dr Susan Johns, (Bangor University) medievalist, special interest in the seals of noble women: Co-Investigator, Si. Me. W

Also involved: Knowledge Transfer Advisory Board (Si. Me. Wand Ex. OMS): • Dr Susan Also involved: Knowledge Transfer Advisory Board (Si. Me. Wand Ex. OMS): • Dr Susan Davies (Aberystwyth University): archive specialist • Professor Paul Harvey (University of Durham): seals expert • Professor Mark Ormrod (University of York): medievalist and experienced director of research initiatives What have these projects

What did we do? • Investigated 26 collections from 9 different repositories • Recorded What did we do? • Investigated 26 collections from 9 different repositories • Recorded c. 3, 200 impressions, all still attached to their parent document, from c. 2, 600 different seal matrices • Included all seal impressions within the temporal / geographic parameters: no ‘cherry-picking’ as in many previous studies • Data gathered from sealed instrument as a whole

How did we do it? - Custom-built database enabled large amounts of information about How did we do it? - Custom-built database enabled large amounts of information about the sealed instruments to be gathered efficiently (Database programing: Dr John Mc. Ewan) - Built upon previous descriptive methods to establish a stable recording template and controlled vocabulary

 • Note: digital photography is a crucial research tool! Shropshire Archives, Lilleshall Deeds • Note: digital photography is a crucial research tool! Shropshire Archives, Lilleshall Deeds 428

Also note: motif keyword tags are embedded in the photographic metadata to facilitate search Also note: motif keyword tags are embedded in the photographic metadata to facilitate search and analysis

Who helped us? • Good relationships with repositories (archivists, conservators) were essential • A Who helped us? • Good relationships with repositories (archivists, conservators) were essential • A close working relationship with Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / National Library of Wales was particularly important for Si. Me. W, and included a major public exhibition, April-September 2012

Why did we do this work? • These projects have created opportunities to investigate Why did we do this work? • These projects have created opportunities to investigate many interdisciplinary questions about women and men across society, including: • Who used seals in medieval Wales and the English border counties, and in what contexts? • What range of images and words were employed on medieval seals in these areas? • How can seals inform our understanding of identities in medieval Wales and the Marches?

What is the wider context? • These projects have built on past experience, current What is the wider context? • These projects have built on past experience, current enthusiasm, and future plans for recording and research in an international context – In 2012, a new online international network and forum for seal-studies was launched as: SIGILLVM www. sigillvm. net

A Codicil! • Close collaboration and mutual understanding between researchers and archivists is vital A Codicil! • Close collaboration and mutual understanding between researchers and archivists is vital for success • Advance planning, sharing expertise and mutual recognition of professional values are essential • Knowledge transfer to wide audiences should be a key element in planning and delivery – These projects have provided professional development for heritage practitioners and new information for interested researchers at all levels