Personal seal matrix of Queen Balthild

Contributed by Norwich Castle Museum

Personal seal matrix of Queen Balthilde from the Anglo Saxon period. © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service

This gold seal matrix was discovered in 1999 by a metal-detector user in a field a few miles east of Norwich. It was originally part of a swivelling finger ring. The style of its engravings suggested an early Anglo-Saxon date.

Close inspection of the seal at Norwich Castle Museum revealed contrasting images on its two faces. On one side is the face of a queen, bearing the legend BALDEHILDIS in Frankish lettering. On the reverse is a very personal impression showing two naked figures.

Further study served to associate this object with Balthild, who was the wife and queen of Clovis II, king of Burgundy and Neustria (639-658). She is known to have been an Anglo-Saxon of elite birth, perhaps a relative of King Ricberht of East Anglia. The depiction on the seal presumably shows Balthild and Clovis in an erotic position beneath a cross. This personal seal of Queen Balthild may have been returned to England, to her family, after her death.

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