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Aug 12, 2013

Medieval Mondays: The Dunstable Swan Jewel

This beautiful little piece of jewelry is called the Dunstable Swan and is one of the overlooked treasures of the British Museum. It was found in a Dominican Priory in Dunstable, England, and probably dates to the 14th or early 15th century.

Knights at that time liked to think they were descended from one of Arthur's Knights of the Round Table, such as the Knight of the Swan. Both the powerful de Bohun family and the House of Lancaster had the swan as their symbol and when King Henry IV (reigned 1399-1413) married Mary de Bohun he took the swan as his personal symbol.

This was probably the personal ornament of a member of the family or one of the knights who swore fealty to them. I love the detail on this little figure, which is only about two centimeters tall!


  1. That's tiny. What was its use or purpose?

  2. Would this have been worn attached to a belt or kept as an amulet or token by the owner and not seen by others?

    1. It would have been shown off in order to boast about the wearer's lineage and connections. it was mostly likely attached to a belt or worn on the chest like a medal or pendent.

  3. Cool. Everyone like to be well connected.