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Sealing medieval documents

This wonderful document from the Cathedral’s Library and Archives dates from 1282-3, and is shown with its seal. It records the grant of a tenement near the churchyard of St Stephen’s with the rent set at one clove at Easter (perhaps rather affordable by today’s standards?)

The parties: 1) Rosemunda Cake, widow of William le Sergeant 2) Alexander de Toriotune, citizen.

The Cathedral Archives houses hundreds of medieval sealed documents, but what do we really know about them? Why and how were the documents sealed? What do we know about the people behind the documents?

“Imprint” is a collaborative project which brings new forensic technologies to old documents. Using equipment more often found in crime scenes than archives, the project team have investigated the finger and hand prints embedded into sealing wax by medieval people.