After my Easter break, I’ve returned to my sigillography project.

Using Rev. John Curtis’s Topographical History as a starting point, and cross-referencing with the list of Leicestershire sheriffs from Henry II-Edward III, I’ve got a very basic idea of who had what, when and how long for.

The shire was divided into hundreds – basic units of administration which divided a wider region.

Leicestershire – photo credit Wikipedia Commons
Map of Leicestershire showing the administrative divisions, photo credit Antique Maps –


The main areas in Leicestershire were Gartree Hundred, Garlaxton Hundred, Sparkenhoe Hundred, West Goscote Hundred, East Goscote Hundred, and Framland Hundred. Within these, there were many smaller units of administration and territorial divisions, and a great many manors.

Based on the Rev. Curtis’s Topography, I can see the following manors and their occupants. This is just a cursory glance without any real in-depth consideration… that will come later. I’m not including manors and lands held by monastic foundations at the moment, and nothing beyond 1400. I’ve gone through the book and extracted the relevant information, sparse as it is in places, and so far uncorroborated by my own research, and ended up with a 50K word document on pretty much every manor in the county. From that I’ve done a search for the family names that pop up in (1) more than one manor and (2) over at least a 50 year period.

My reasons for doing it this way are mainly with the National Archives Catalogues in mind; the index cards on which the seal collection there is catalogued are all in alphabetical order by family, so I need to look up the families first before I can see the seals. This in itself raises some problems – the extant seals may not belong to the individuals in that family who held lands in Leicestershire, for example, or they may belong to a family member with the same name as a Leicestershire kinsman but who was not themselves a Leicestershire landowner.

The idea is to see what seals would have been familiar to the Leicestershire families and which representamen would have been most readily recognised in the shire, and whether this familiarity of forms and styles created some kind of local or regional fashion in trends, or whether certain families began to borrow from their neighbours and marital/foster alliances to visually demonstrate their connections. This is why the seals themselves cannot and should not, in cases where they are still attached to their original documents, be divorced from the contents of those documents.

For now, I have a rather long list of names, which goes on for about two pages.

Yay me.

I’m going to be looking at Acheson’s appendices today, and delving into the genealogies of these families a little more in order to get a clearer idea of who I’m meant to be focusing on, so I don’t end up wasting my time with non-Leicestershire-land-holding cadet branches of the same family.

Even though it’s often easier to find the information when you’re looking for people, as opposed to a place, each research project brings with it its own set of limitations, problems and challenges.

With that in mind, I will be returning to West Cardiff and focusing on piecing Caerau’s Medieval story together from wider context and the extant sources, now that I’ve partially lifted the lid on the difficulties that particular project poses.

Look out for the future Caerau posts – which should be a lot less methodology, and a lot more narrative.

I’ll aim to post something next week on Caerau, and then continue with that as we build up to the dig at Michaelstone-super-Ely in July! I may intersperse these posts with my Leicestershire progress, and look out for the official Power of the Bishop call for papers – already up on the page, but soon to be sent out to Institutions Near You.  Also, if you’re rocking up to Leeds IMC this year, I’m giving paper 1612-c on Thursday (11:15 slot)!

SO MUCH GOING ON – – – that’s before I even get a date for my viva! Oh my.

Over and out.