Dr Elke Cwiertnia, Conservation Scientist at The National Archives, introduces a recently completed project that uses heritage science to shed light on the use of wax seals as communication devices.
Although wax seals have been widely studied with regard to their iconography, their materiality and importance as communication devices are still not fully understood. The National Archives (UK), ‘Wax Seals in Context’ project addressed unanswered questions concerning the study of medieval wax seals by investigating their materiality, manufacture and use allowing us to understand better the making and meaning of this important medium of medieval communication.
Image: wax seal of Henry of Lancaster (TNA: E26 / A 60, B series cord E)
Using heritage science (visual examination, material analysis such as XRF), reproduction of recipes for sealing wax and archival evidence the project has focused on English royal and governmental seals of the 12th and 13th centuries.
To find out more, please visit The National Archives website.