Metal detecting holidays in England with the World's most successful metal detecting club.

Twinned with Midwest Historical Research Society USA



    Keys and locks all periods


    Roman 1st to 4thC



    1st to 3rd C Roman key ring

    Late Roman early Saxon barrel lock

    3 cut outs to rear

    38mm L x 27.8mm H - 10.06g

    Roman key

    Roman key

    Huge Roman key handles

    Roman barrel lock


    Roman bronze key

    AD 43 -410 Roman key

    Very unusual Romano/British bronze key with rounded finial handle - one for the museum

    10.56g, 31.30mm L x 12.00mm dia

    Tiny Roman bronze key ?

    Roman latch key

    Roman bronze lock pin fragment
    Roman key handle

    Roman bronze decorated latch key with suspension hole 48.26mm L x 8.83mm x T x 12.45mm H, 17.62g

    Interesting 2nd C Roman latch key set up




    Anglo Saxon - Early medieval


    Early Medieval key handle circa AD 900-1100. The attachment end is hollow and rectangular in section. This is attached to an oval plate of openwork design formed by a cross.The four arms of the cross have cast raised longitudinal lines. Both faces of the key handle are decorated in this way. At the apex of the handle is a rectangular projection with a worn break. The object has a reddish brown patina typical of late Early Medieval period. Length 40.25mm, width 31.43mm, thickness of attachment end 8.78mm, thickness of plate 4.88mm, weight 19.8g.




    Anglo-Saxon 'Round Bow' Casket Key

    10.41g, 40.88mm Lx19.58mm W x 6.30mm T


    Viking bronze key handle






    Huge medieval key 76.34mm

    Medieval iron key

    Massive medieval iron key




    Medieval barrel locks

    Locks of one kind or another have been used from ancient times for whenever man acquires desirable possessions there are those who are prepared to steal them. Barrel padlocks are known from at least the Roman period in this country but as they are generally made of iron they are rarely found in good condition. They are also used in the later Saxon and Viking period but again construction in iron means their survival rate is low. A complete 10th century example has however been found in Coppergate, York and it is on display at the Jorvik Viking Centre.1 It is of a larger size with more complex construction and decoration than these later Medieval examples but in general the operating principle remains the same.

    They consist of two quite separate and detachable parts, one a cylindrical barrel with a bar above and the other the bolt. The bolt is a device with barb-springs that catch internally behind a stop within the barrel and a socket that engages with the external bar over the cylinder. In this position the lock is closed and requires a key to release the mechanism . The key is inserted through an opening, often 'T' shaped, in the end of the barrel . Inserting the key compresses the internal barb-springs to a level below the stops in the cylinder and thus allows the bolt to be withdrawn.



    Medieval barrel lock

    Excessively Rare Tudor 'Five-Ring Combination' Lock



    Symbols on lock barrels


    Copper-alloy, 29.77 grams, 32.48 mm. Circa 16th century AD.  


    A very early form of 'combination lock' utilising five disks once rotating about an axle with lettering on each to release the locking bar.


    The hoop of the lock in the form of two uprights connected by a semi-cirular central section; one upright being removed when the lock was opened.


    Four of the disks each bear five enigmatic symbols; the fifth having four symbols (with a fifth possibly once present?)


    In addition, symbols are also to be seen on the two fixed ends of the lock cylinder.


     Reference: Portable Antiquities Scheme find number LIN-80D373

    (this lock and also referring to two very similar examples from Suffolk and in the British Museum).

    See the PAS entry for full details of the lock symbols, taken from an x-ray image.


    A most unusual, intact and extremely rare item with the use of symbols in place of normal letters seemingly unique.


    Provenance: found at Hatton, Lincolnshire




    Medieval combination barrel lock

    Medieval barrel lock

    Medieval barrel lock key



    Circa 14th-15th century AD.

    Late medieval lock








    Circa 14th-15th century AD.


    Medieval casket keys




    15thC casket keys

    Large medieval iron key

    Unknown bronze medieval item - appears to be a rectangular key of some description with suspension loop

    Researching it

    Georgian barrel tap key

    Post medieval casket keys




    Clock keys


    Pad locks

    Medieval pad lock



    Key hole escutcheons