Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Seals in Their COntext in Medieval England and Wales
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 10 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1,000 word essay  20%
Semester Assessment 4,000 word project  80%
Supplementary Assessment 1,000 word essay  20%
Supplementary Assessment 4,000 word project  80%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate an understanding of the different types of seals and their use in Britain, and the academic literature related to them.

Demonstrate an understanding of the benefits and challenges of working with seals as a historical source.

Analyze and critically reflect on the use of seals as images of power or identity.

Construct cogent historical arguments relating to medieval seals.


Seals are an important but often neglected source for social, cultural, political, religious, administrative and local history. They are inherently inter-disciplinary, displaying a wide array of images and providing crucial evidence for ideas of status, identity, fashion and technology. Although reference will be made to their long and varied history, the focus will be on seals in Britain from the 11th - 15th centuries. This module will introduce students to seals as a historical source and equip them with the basic tools for further investigation. The cross-disciplinary nature of the material means that, while focusing on seals, students will acquire much broader skills in accessing and interpreting non-documentary sources, and in contextualizing different types of material.

Brief description

In the most ordinary sense, seals were used in the middle ages in order to authenticate documents and provide evidence to the carrying out of some act, their presence a mark of security and proof. Beyond this rather bland but still significant definition however lurks a source-type which throws open all sorts of opportunities for the medieval historian, offering insights into a range of themes, all of which are in different ways enlivened by the study of seals. These include consideration of the choice individuals made in their seal designs and the information this might offer us to a range of attitudes and beliefs. The module will build upon the unique resources provided by the AHRC-funded, ‘Seals in Medieval Wales’ project.


Weekly 2-hour seminars:

1: Introduction: What is a seal?
2: Seals, power and authority to c.1200
3: From memory to written record I: using & misusing seals to c.1300
4: From memory to written record II: using & misusing seals in the later Middle Ages
5: The imprinted image: seal designs in medieval Britain
6: Powerful impressions: politics, status and identity
7: Visit to the NLW
8: Flowers for the lady? Seals, gender and lineage
9: Pious impressions: seals, devotional expression, and the Church
10: Seals and medieval studies

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number NA
Communication Oral and written communication skills will be developed through seminars and feedback on written work. These skills will be assessed through assignments.
Improving own Learning and Performance Written work will be returned in tutorials where advice will be given regarding the improvement of research and techniques and essay writing skills
Information Technology Through the retrieval of primary and secondary works from online resources and AberLearn Blackboard and through the writing, formatting and printing of essays.
Personal Development and Career planning This module will develop oral and written skills. It will also prepare students for careers which involve the research, critical analysis and presentation of material relevant to a particular problem or set of problems
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area, and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays.
Research skills Students will be required to carry out research for seminars and written work.
Subject Specific Skills This module will develop a knowledge of how seals can be explored in a range of contexts and how their study will present new opportunities for historians of the middle ages; the multi-disciplinary aspects (art historical, linguistic, historical) of this will be developed in the module.
Team work Through seminar activities, including seminar leading with another student.


This module is at CQFW Level 5