Medieval seals task 6

Task 6

6.This is not a medieval seal. It is the seal of Canterbury Cathedral from 1534. It is particularly large and has images on both sides. On the obverse, it shows the story of Thomas Becket from earlier times, who was killed inside the cathedral in 1170. Like many monasteries and cathedrals, it shows pictures of the cathedral itself on the reverse. The motto around the edge was written in Latin and said: “The Seal of Christ’s Church Canterbury, the principal bishopric of Britain”. Catalogue ref: E 25/25.

Look carefully at both sides of the seal belonging to Canterbury Cathedral. Remember that the front of the seal is called the ‘obverse’ and the ‘reverse’ is the back of the seal.

  • Can you find out and explain what happened to Thomas Becket shown in the obverse of the seal?
  • Who are the figures shown on the obverse of the seal? Where is the scene taking place?
  • Why do you think the monks wanted to reveal Becket’s story on their seal?
  • What are the buildings shown on the reverse of the seal? Can you describe them?
  • What do you think the figures shown on the reverse of seal are meant to show? Why are they included do you think?
  • Can you find the motto around the edge of the seal?
  • What does the amount of detail on the seal reveal about the monks who used it?
  • What does the seal reveal about the importance of religion?