Heritage100

Medieval moot horn

Medieval moot horn

The survival of the instrument intact from the time of its manufacture to the present day is remarkable…

Winchester’s medieval moot horn is a large and solid instrument, cast in a good quality alloy of copper known as leaded gunmetal. It has two suspension loops for a shoulder harness to help support the weight when it was blown.

The decorative band around the bell of the horn shows six figures in relief, two standing bishops and four rampant lions. The figures are thought to represent the two principal authorities in medieval Winchester, the bishop and the king, the lions being a symbol of royal authority.

In medieval times the moot horn was used by the men of the watch to call the citizens together in times of danger and to summon the freemen to assemblies of the "Burrough Mote", the equivalent of City Council meetings. The Burghmote met three times a year, when elections took place and the laws and by-laws necessary for the peace and smooth running of the city's affairs were passed. The quality of the Moot Horn's sound can be shown by flicking it with a fingernail; it rings as sweetly as a bell.

The Moot Horn has been on public display for more than 100 years, and was from time to time still blown at civic functions throughout the 20th century. In 1998, a replica was commissioned, which is now blown at the annual mayor-making ceremony in May. However, you can hear for yourself the sound of the original by listening to an audio recording alongside the horn on display in the City Museum or by clicking the link in the "Sounds" section below.

Quick Facts

  • Weight 5.74 kg (12 lbs 12 ounces)
  • Made of leaded gunmetal
  • Date made late 12th or early 13th century AD
  • Place made Winchester
  • Dimensions length 585mm, Diameter 99mm, Height 250mm
  • Where found part of the civic collection of the City of Winchester since the 12th century
  • Accession number WINCM:ARCH 3453

 


Facts

  • A trained player can produce four true notes: B below middle C, B an octave above, F# above that, and a top G above that.
  • When blown from the roof of the Westgate in the 1920s it could be heard on St Catherine’s hill several miles away.
  • Scientific analysis of the metal proved that it was made in the last quarter of the 12th or early 13th century.
  • The moot horn was seized by rebels in the Peasant’s Revolt, 1381. They occupied the Guildhall, the city’s administrative centre, and used it to mobilise public support for their cause.

Did you know?

In 1731 the city’s town-crier was fined for ‘not blowing the Burrough Mote Horn as in former times’. When its weight is considered, the reluctance of some of Winchester’s officials to fulfil this part of their civic duty is understandable.

Gallery

Medieval moot horn - drawing of detail
Medieval moot horn drawings
Moot horn and City Champion, fundraising for war effort about 1941/2
The moot horn being blown on the Westgate roof, 1927

Sounds

Listen to the four notes of the moot horn

Give us your comments and stories!

Have a story about "Medieval moot horn", or simply want to tell us what you think?
Add your thoughts below. You can sign in with Google, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo! to get your story posted straight away - or just post a comment to be published later.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Where is this item?

Why not make a day of it?

Let us help you plan a route and make a visit