Now before we go any further, this month’s brooch is not Medieval.  However fabulous it would be to have a genuine 15th century piece of jewellery in my collection I’m afraid my budget does not stretch that far.  My brooch is a copy of a brooch from the Fishpool Hoard and was given to me by my husband in 2011 as a Valentine’s present.  It came with a dainty pair of drop earrings to match.  The brooch is made of gilt metal with enamel.  It is a faithful interpretation of the original found as part of the hoard, which is embellished with twisted gold bands set within a beaded border and enamelled in blue and white.

Fishpool Hoard Heart Brooch from the British Museum

Fishpool Hoard Heart Brooch from British MuseumThe hoard was found in 1966 by a group of workmen on a building site in Nottinghamshire, in an area known as Fishpool.  The ‘fishpool’ of Blidworth  Blyworth fyspole was mentioned as a landscape feature on the Belvoir map of Sherwood Forest in the early 1400s. And was the site of the fishpond for the village of Blidworth.

The main part of the find was 1,237 gold coins deposited between 1463 and 1464 and is the largest hoard of medieval coins found in Britain.  At the time of  burial, it is thought to have had a value of £400, which equates to £306,557.54 in today’s value, according to the Bank of England calculator.  It was probably buried for safe keeping, possibly after the Battle of Hexham (May 1464).  One of the many battles in the War of the Roses.  The War of the Roses 1455–1487 was between the house of Lancaster, the red rose and the house of York, the white rose. It was a traumatic time in Britain with many shifting allegiances and alliances.  It was finally resolved when Henry VII (from the house of Lancaster)won the battle of Bosworth.   When he married Elizabeth from the house of York he joined the two warring families (Houses) and began one of the most famous monarchical dynasties in our history, the Tudors.  He combined the white rose and the red rose into the Tudor rose, which is still seen today in regal emblems.

As well as over 1,200 gold coins there were four pieces of jewellery buried. The heart shaped brooch found in the hoard has an inscription “je suys vostre sans de partier” (I am yours forever). Of the other pieces of jewellery found, a pendant is inscribed “de tout” on one side and “mon cuer” on the other (of all … my heart).

Jewellery has been playing a part in love for centuries.  In Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1387-1400)  the narrator advises ‘if you would serve your lady, you must send her letters, tokens, brooches and rings’.

Happy Valentine’s Day