An “extremely rare” 12th century artefact has been uncovered by a member of staff at Lincoln Cathedral.
During an audit of the Ccthedral’s collections, the small silver object was confirmed to be a seal matrix used by the Dean and Chapter to give documents their seal of approval.
The treasured matrix was found in a box of uncatalogued replicas and was believed to be from the Victorian era until a closer look revealed the truth.
Fern Dawson is the collections and engagement officer at Lincoln Cathedral and found the artefact.
She said: “From finding the seal in the store, to having its identity revealed, this has been an amazing discovery and will always be a day to remember.
“For years the cathedral had confused the seal with a much later 19th century copy, which has in recent years been exhibited in London and Germany.”
The seal depicts the patron saint of Lincoln Cathedral, the Virgin Mary.
She wears a crown and is seated on a throne holding the infant Christ in her lap.
Dean of Lincoln, Christine Wilson, said: “To rediscover this piece of living history is extraordinary.
“It is inspiring to imagine the story it holds of documents and transactions sealed throughout the centuries by ancient predecessors.”
Alongside the silver seal, a 13th century seal matrix of the Vicars Choral and a small personal 14th century seal matrix belonging to a cleric named John.
The seals will be on display in the Cathedral treasury from September 15 before it is put on display permanently at the new National Lottery funded visitor centre, which is due to open in 2020.