A ’hornbook’

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A ’hornbook’

This rectangular plate of copper alloy was found in a rubbish pit infilled around 1500 at 37 North Street in 1971. It shows a man and woman below two alphabets, the first in capitals, the second in lower case. The man carries a bow, whilst the woman is breast-feeding her baby. She wears a turban, reflecting a fashion for Turkish dress in northern Europe in the 15th century. 'Hornbooks' such as this were used to teach children to read. The rectangular panel bearing the alphabet was most commonly of paper or parchment, protected by a thin transparent layer of horn, hence their name.

Acknowledgments: RAM Museum