Featured Fragment – Braehead Manor Medallion
By Kerry S. Gonzalez
Our past blog posts typically include interesting details on an artifact that we find particularly notable. However, for this post we are going to highlight an artifact that we know very little about in hopes of receiving some feedback from our esteemed readers. Dovetail archaeologists found the medallion pictured here in December 2014, while conducting a Phase I archaeological survey at the Braehead property in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Braehead was constructed in 1859 as the manor house of the Howison family. Today, it sits along Lee Drive right in the center of the Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania National Military Park. One of the home’s claims to fame is that General Robert E. Lee had breakfast at this house during the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862.
The medallion was found while metal detecting on the property. One side of the medallion features a man holding a staff with a two-horned animal at his side. The reverse shows a spread eagle similar to the eagle on Poland’s crest. Originally, the man on the obverse was thought to be St. Hubert, patron saint of hunters, metalworkers, mathematicians, and opticians, but further examination revealed that this item did not picture a saint. Images of St. Hubert always portray a stag bearing a cross between his antlers, which is absent on this medal. The beast shown in the image below is clearly a two-horned animal such as a goat or ram with no cross between the horns.
A great deal of research and consultation went into this small item, but as of this post, it is still unknown if this artifact dates to the Civil War use of the property. Did a soldier carry this piece into battle, possibly as an heirloom item? Was it lost by a passerby prior to the original occupation of the property in the 1850s? Or was it lost at a later date?
Intrigued? We are too. If you have seen something similar, please contact Kerry González at [email protected].
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