Middleham Jewel

Middleham Jewel - Yorkshire Museum

1400AD - 1499AD

This outstanding example of medieval craftsmanship was found near Middleham Castle in North Yorkshire, the childhood home of Richard III.

The diamond-shaped gold pendant is adorned with a large sapphire.   It is intricately engraved, on the front with an image of the Holy Trinity and on the back with the Nativity.  It would clearly have been valued it for it’s religious significance and the pendant may well have held a religious relic within it.

The inscriptions around the edge are in both Latin and Hebrew and the words are related to childbirth, suggesting that the jewel may have been made for a woman.  Its owner may also have valued it for it’s magical properties, such as the engraved word ananizapta, which was thought to protect against epilepsy. 

It is sometimes speculated that the Jewel belonged to Richard's mother.  Certainly, only a hugely wealthy and powerful individual could have commissioned such an object – wealth was concentrated in the hands of the very few.  The owner must have been noble and may well have been royal.

During 2010 The Middleham Jewel was on display at the British Museum for several months, it returned to York for the reopening of the Yorkshire Museum on 1 August 2010.