England, about 1400
Inscribed 'THOMAS HUNTE: HONORIFICABILIUT' on body (a medieval tongue-twister)
Countess of Loudoun gift
Until about 1400 churches provided the principal market for pewter. Cruets, usually in pairs, held wine and water for use during the Mass. This cruet was found in a well cavity at Ashby de la Zouche Castle in Leicestershire. It must pre-date the filling of the well during the building of the Great Tower in 1476.
The inscriptions on the vessel, are presumably an owner's name together with an abbreviated version of the well-known medieval tongue-twister HONORIFICABILITUDINITATIBUS, the longest word known to medieval Latin scholars from the ninth century onwards. The best-known example of the use of this word is in Love's Labour's Lost, Act V, scene 1, in which Costard the clown exclaims: 'O they have lived long on the alms-basket of words. I marvel thy master hath not eaten thee for a word; for thou art not so long by the head as honorificabilitudinitatibus; thou art easier swallow'd than a flap-dragon'.