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Tony Henderson

Historic Northumberland seal goes up for auction after metal detector find

Baron Adam de Tindale would not have been a happy chappie when he returned from a day’s riding in what is now South Tyneside.

The powerful Northumberland landowner had lost the personal metal seal which hung around his neck from a strap. The seal was lost for around 800 years – until metal detectorist Warrick Rochester searched a field with the landholder’s permission.

The seal matrix has now been identified as dating from around the 13th century, with the family name around its edge. A father and son of that name were barons of Langley in Northumberland at this time. Ben Westwood, finds liaison officer for the Potable Antiquities Scheme, to which such discoveries are reported, said: “It is a fantastic object and of national importance.”

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It will now be sold by Boldon Auction Galleries on Wednesday with an estimate of £2,000-£3,000. The highly personal copper alloy object, which the baron would have used to stamp wax seals on documents and letters, has what appears to be the image of a veiled woman and a hooded man with moustache at its centre. This could be a representation of Adam and his wife.

The father and son, both named Adam de Tindale, are recorded as being Barons of Langely (or Langley) in the later 12th to mid 13th century. The Barony of Langley during that period is described as being of 13,000 acres in extent, centred on Langley Castle, near Haydon Bridge.

Mr Westwood said: “The Tindale or Tynedale family have been traced with some certainty from the later 11th century onwards, and were undoubtedly a powerful family in the turbulent years of the Scottish Wars that dominate the history of Northumberland during that period .

Mr Rochester, who lives in South Shields, had only taken up the metal detectorist hobby during lockdown. “At first I thought the object was a Victorian pendant, but when it was cleaned up I was intrigued by it. It’s a fascinating thing,” said Mr Rochester, who in the same field also found a coin from the 13th-century reign of Henry III.

Adam Snr held the barony of Langley under Henry II (1154-89), The younger Adam was known to be living in 1194, and died possibly in 1233, leaving two daughters as co-heirs. “Adam De Tyndal” is recorded as having donated to the Church of Hexham significant grants of land, including the “entire manor of Warden with church, and chapels of Stayncroft and Hayden.”

Records relating to Warden make reference to the Tindale grant and attest to the status of the barony, Recorded are several homages and rents owed to Adam de Tindale by their vassals. Mr Westwood said: “If any lands were owned or held in the area of South Tyneside by the Tindale family, further research may yet identify such a link. However, the seal may have been a casual loss in that area.”

Langley Castle stands about two miles south of Haydon Bridge on the A686 road to Alston and is now run as a hotel. Over the years the castle passed through the hands of various high profile families,

In 1882, local historian and former High Sheriff of Northumberland Cadwallader Bates bought the castle and began its restoration, which was finally completed in 1905 under the management of his wife Josephine, and it remained a private residence of the family until her death in 1932.

During the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, it was a military barracks and a girls’ school. It was a venue for medieval banquet events in the 1980s.


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