Mirror case

A single, openwork, valve of a pewter mirror-case of the 13th century. It is oval in shape and retains traces of the putty used to hold its glass mirror (long perished) in place. It was found in 1921, during construction work on the corner of St Johns Place and King Edward Street. It was found crumpled up, implying it had been deliberately disposed of. The imagery depicts elements of the highly popular medieval romance of Tristram and Iseult, focussing upon the episode of the lovers tryst beneath the tree. King Mark, Tristram and Iseult are named across the middle portions of the mirror-case and the circumference carries an inscription in garbled, illiterate Anglo-Norman, wishing joy to the bearer of the mirror-case. As a mass-produced, cheap piece of jewellery, it significantly demonstrates the widespread and popular appeal of romance culture.

  • Material/Medium: tin alloy
  • Date: 14th century
  • Creator: n/a
  • Accession number: 2151
  • Category: Archaeology
  • Subject: n/a