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Title: Mirror case
Item Name: Religion or Ritual


Oval copper alloy object with a loop at one end, and the broken remains of a hinge at the other end. Convex outer surface, the upper and lower portions have raised decoration resembling cracked leather, the back is hollow. The object is half of a portable mirror case used by pilgrims when visiting holy shrines. The case would have contained a mirror to capture the reflection of the saintly relics and thereby transferring their protective powers to the wearer. It dates to the late 13th or early 14th century. Found by the donor on public land between Woldgate and Boynton.

Culture: Medieval
Materials: copper alloy
Measurements: L:7cm; W:4.1cm
ID_Number: ERYMS : 2007.117

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The Yorkshire Wolds
The Yorkshire Wolds are the northernmost outcrop of a great band of chalk, stretching across the country from the Wessex Downs to the North Sea. They extend in a rough crescent shape, from the banks of the Humber to the cliffs at Flamborough Head. “Wolds” is a name that is given to several ranges of hills; the same term can be found in the Lincolnshire Wolds and the Cotswolds. The word is derived from the Old English word for forest, but by about the time of the Norman Conquest, it had come to refer to open, upland areas. The Wolds have been farmed since at least the early Neolithic (c.3700 BC). Throughout much of its history, the land was used principally for pasture, rather than for growing crops as it is today. In particular, the 16th century saw the mixed farming of the medieval Wolds give way to large scale sheep farming, as well as rabbit warrens. But advances in agriculture and enclosure acts in the 18th and 19th centuries created the arable landscape of fields and hedges which we know today. It was at around this time that the archaeological significance of the Yorkshire Wolds was first recognised. Pioneers such as John Robert Mortimer, a corn merchant from Driffield, and Edward Maude Cole, vicar of Wetwang, excavated a variety of prehistoric and early medieval sites, working mainly on barrows and burials. The free-draining soils are ideal for the formation of cropmarks over buried archaeological features, and in more recent times, aerial photography has significantly enhanced our knowledge of the stories in this landscape.

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