Object of the Month – May 2021

This medieval steelyard weight with three cast triangular shields depicting crude lion passant, three chevrons and two-headed eagle, (the arms of the Hanseatic League) was once filled with lead.   The weight formed part of a steelyard balance weighing machine used by traders.  The balance consisted of a bar suspended from a hook or hooks, suspended underneath it at one end, with the steelyard ball weight at the other.The use of the steelyard was banned in 1350.

The Hanseatic League was a Guild of Merchants founded from a federation of north German towns and cities in the 12th century to facilitate trade.  They occupied a Guildhall in Steelyard, London from the mid-12th century.   In 1194 a charter from Richard I gave them the freedom to trade throughout the kingdom.  Later charters enabled them to  increase their wealth by purchasing land and property.

The weight was dug up by the donor when they were gardening in their property near St Andrew’s Church in Chinnor.

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