Warning Cookies are used on this site to provide the best user experience. If you continue, we assume that you agree to receive cookies from this site. OK

Inscribed Vervels

A corpus and discussion of late medieval and Renaissance hawking rings found in Britain

Michael J. Lewis and Ian Richardson
Publication Year:
96 pages, Illustrated throughout in colour and black and white. 1 table, 15 figures (3 in colour), 4 colour maps, 17 colour graphs.
BAR number:


This book provides a corpus of inscribed hawking rings (vervels) reported Treasure via the Portable Antiquities Scheme over the last twenty years. Since vervels are normally inscribed with information about their owners, they constitute an important social and archaeological record. This information is explored through the corpus, which shows the objects to have been owned predominantly by men of status, particularly in the Stuart period. Also included is a discussion of the development of hawking and the use of vervels, and analysis of their form, function and dating, as well as variations in design. Particularly significant is the information on their distribution, as many inscribed vervels are found in the vicinity of estates owned by the individuals mentioned upon them. This publication thus provides a unique resource to the scholar and to the casual enthusiast.

Michael Lewis is Head of Portable Antiquities and Treasure at the British Museum, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and a Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. He has a particular interest in medieval small finds, but is best known for his work on the Bayeux Tapestry. Ian Richardson is the Treasure Registrar at the British Museum and an Associate of the Museums Association. He has an interest in the history of sport and post-medieval archaeology.

‘Well executed, clearly written, strong on context and blending critical reflection on the limitations as well as the merits of the dataset with rigorous cataloguing of information’ Oliver Creighton, Medieval Archaeology, Vol 65.2 (2022)

‘[This] book has the potential to rewrite our understanding of an interesting historical and archaeological object class.’ Dr Eljas Oksanen, University of Reading

‘The interdisciplinary framework is exemplary. … The detailed analysis of vervels is groundbreaking. … It is, moreover, vitally important, as it comprises the only detailed overview of forms of evidence which are central to the history of falconry, and the analysis eloquently demonstrates how falconry was dynamically evolving - in ways easily overlooked - over the period surveyed.’ Dr Eric Lacey, University of Winchester

‘[This work] provides an invaluable gathering of the data as presently understood. … This should provide the essential point of reference for these items for many years to come.’ Dr Tim Pestell, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery

‘Fascinating! A perceptive and thorough effort to use the evidence provided by these tiny and often mundane objects to provide not only a workable typology but also to indicate and clarify place, ownership and social relationships. … The results of this research will be of great interest and use to all scholars investigating hawking and falconry.’ Richard Almond, Independent scholar

Table of Contents (B648_9781407316789_ToC.pdf, 169 Kb) [Download]