Derived from the French vervelle, a vervel is the metal loop used to connect leather straps to hunting hawks' legs, enabling them to be tied to stands or leashes.

This example, discovered in Norfolk by metal detectorists, has special significance as it was owned by Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales. Born in 1594 to James I and Anne of Denmark, Henry was heir to the thrones of England and Scotland prior to his untimely death from typhoid in 1612. His historical importance was highlighted by the National Portrait Gallery's 2012 exhibition The Lost Prince: The Life and Death of Henry Stuart, which established Henry as a widely loved figure whose death was regarded as a national tragedy for the recently united kingdom. The owner can be clearly identified from the inscription, 'Henrye Prince', running around the outer face of the ring, and the badge of the Prince of Wales inscribed on the plate: three ostrich feathers ringed by a coronet, above a scroll bearing the phrase 'ICH DIEN' (a contraction of the German 'I serve'). Hawking was a specialised and especially aristocratic form of hunting, which in Henry's day hunting was considered a virile sport which taught the young the skills of warfare. Aside from their use in tethering hawks, personalised vervels also allowed lost birds to be returned to their owners, although it is not yet known why Henry may have visited Norfolk as Prince of Wales.

Provenance

Found through metal detection by Mr Jason Jackson and Mr Alan Daynes in Cley-next-the-Sea, north Norfolk, and declared treasure in 2012.


Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery

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