The most spectacular ecclesiastical treasures to be discovered in Britain for almost half a century have been unearthed in the ruins of a medieval abbey in Cumbria.
An elaborate 14th-15th century abbot’s crook (his staff of office) and his gilt silver inauguration ring were found in a grave just four meters northwest of the high altar at the ruined Cistercian abbey of Furness near Preston.
The top of the crook is decorated with a silver plaque bearing a gilded image of the Archangel Michael slaying a dragon. Remarkably, some of the original wood of the crook also survives, as does the pointed iron spike at its base – and part of a linen and silk ‘sweat cloth’ designed to prevent the abbot’s potentially perspiring hands coming into contact with the wooden part of the crook.
The ring, which would almost certainly have been specially made for his inauguration as abbot, is of gilded silver and is set with a large white gemstone – either a rock crystal or a white sapphire.
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