A RARE silver seal matrix unearthed by someone using a metal detector has found a permanent home at Hereford Museum, where it will soon be on display to the public.

The beautifully carved artefact, which dates back to the late 15th or early 16th century, would have been used as an official seal on documents and was found by a farmer in Much Dewchurch in 2001.

It is likely the seal was once owned by an individual of some significance, as shown by parts of the carved motif, which shows a shield with fleur-de-lis and a five bar label, flanked by dragons, and topped with oak leaves.

The identity of the particular individual or family has mystified experts from the College of Arms in London, but it is likely they were local to the Welsh Marches and may even have lived near to where the matrix was found.

When the item was shown to the Portable Antiquities Finds Liaison Officer in 2004, it was thought it would be classed as treasure trove. It then went through the official process and was said by the Treasure Valuation Committee to be "of high quality workmanship and in excellent condition".

Only three other seal matrices of around this date, all made of copper alloy, are held in the museum's collections and this is the only known silver matrix from the county.