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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 August 2006, 21:36 GMT 22:36 UK
Ancient 'exceptional' seal found
Medieval seal matrix
The original owner of the seal matrix is unknown
A medieval artefact found by two metal detector users in Shropshire may be bought by the county's museum service.

The silver seal matrix - or mould - was found near Bayston Hill.

Experts have been unable to identify the original owners of the seal, although it is thought to have belonged to an important family in Shropshire.

After a treasure inquest held at Shrewsbury Magistrates Court, the seal matrix will go to the Treasure Valuations Committee for valuation.

The three-piece, oval seal matrix has a centrally set blue gemstone. An inscription on the front face reads "SERVITE DOMINO IN TIMORE" which can be translated as "serve (the) Lord in Fear".

'Important owner'

Peter Reavill, Finds Liaison Officer for Shropshire and Herefordshire on behalf of the British Museum, told the Coroner John Ellery that the seal matrix is "an exceptionally fine find".

He said: "It is unfortunate that we will not know who originally owned the seal.

"However, they were likely to have been relatively rich and important as the workmanship and material used are of the highest quality.

"The fact that a reused Roman gem-stone was set into the seal is also important and is the first of its kind to be found in Shropshire," said Mr Reavill.

Shrewsbury Museum Service is likely to purchase the seal matrix after it has been valued.

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