A MEDIEVAL POTTERY INKSTAND FROM BYLAND ABBEY


For long time readers this may be experiencing some deja vu here.  “Didn’t you do and article on this once?” They may be asking.  Why yes, I did.  It is a short article and since then my blogging and writng skills may have improved slightly.  Importantly however, more information is available on the Byland Abbey and this lovely artifact.  That, or I ‘m just better at finding it than I was six and a half years ago.

The Byland Abbey is near Helmsley, Yorkshire.  It is currently under the care of the English Heritage Foundation an organization that cares for over 400 important British hisotrical sites including Stonehenge.  Byland Abbey was highly influential in its heydey and its architecture had vast influence over its region.  You can learn more about the Byland Abbey and its history here.

The Abbey itself was part of Henry VIII’s Suppression.  It was a time where Henry was consolodating his power after declaring himself the head of the English Church.  Henry closed churches and religious buildings that were making less than 200 Pounds a year.  That created an uprising which he used to close larger religious buildings as well.  The Byland Abbey signed its deed of surrender.  This inkstand presumably could have “been used, possibly for the last time, to sign the deed of surrender handing the abbey over to Henry VIII’s commissioners.”

The “Journal of Medieval Archaeology” vol 5 1961 did a short five paragraph article about the inkstand.  The inkstand is on site at the ruins of the abbey and is apparently on display.

The inkstand itself is a lovely specimen and perhaps the only surviving example of such an inkstand.  Dark green in color, it is seven inches to a side and only about two and a half inches tall.  It has been dated to the 14th or 15th century.  Mostly by the thick green glaze on it.  “The quality of the dark green glaze covering it, however, points to a date in the latter part of this period, in the 14th or 15th century.”  The article gives a very precise description of the ink stand.

A really nice thing about many museums and historical organizations is that they often will take requests to photograph their artifacts.  I made such a request, and then followed up on it. and received the following lovely pictures.

Byland Abbey Ink Well - Top Full View

 

Byland Abbey Ink Well - Top Close

 

Byland Abbey Ink Well - Side B

 

Byland Abbey Ink Well - Side A

 

Byland Abbey Ink Well - Bottom

 

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