Heads and Headings
As well as supplying material of prime importance to historians in many varied spheres, the Fine Rolls also contain several beautiful examples of the skill of the scribes who compiled them. This page displays a selection of images of drawn heads and ornate roll headings from the first eighteen rolls of the reign of Henry III. Simply click on a thumbnail for a larger version of the relevant image.
Images of heads are few and far between in the Fine Rolls, only two having survived. It is interesting to note, however, that both are of women: the first, Mirabel wife of Elias the Jew of Gloucester, succeeds in persuading William Marshal, who held all of her husband's charters of debts, to uphold King John's grant to her of acquittance from Elias's debts; and the second, Hilary Trussebut, receives respite from rendering scutage from her knights' fees.
3. Roll Headings
In the early years of Henry's minority each fine roll bears an ornate title heading on their head membrane, testament both to the scribes' draughtmanship and artistic talents and, perhaps, a growing feeling of confidence in governing circles. For a discussion of this see Ben Wild’s Fine of the Month for April 2007. There are numerous other examples of the scribes' creativity and desire for distinctive references throughout the main body of the fine rolls too, a selection of which accompanies the roll headers.
4. Month headings
In the only surviving roll for 3 Henry III, which is most likely a duplicate of an original now lost, there are a handful of headings referring the clerks to the month with which the entries in that section of the roll deal. All are set out below.