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Pilgrim Badges

Pilgrim badges were sold in the medieval period as souvenirs of pilgrimage. All of the badges below are accurate copies of surviving pewter artefacts. For information on the history of pilgrim badges please refer to the ‘History’ section of the website. Devotional badges are also included in this section.

P16-Thomas Becket, - the murder weapon
P16-Thomas Becket, - the murder weapon

P16-Thomas Becket, - the murder weapon

As Reginald Fitzurse delivered the fatal blow to Becket’s head, the tip of his sword broke on the floor of the chapel. At the altar set up on the site of the murder, the weapon, supposedly stained with Becket’s blood, was displayed to pilgrims. This must have been one of the most powerful images presented to pilgrims at Canterbury, and it seems that it remained a major attraction right up until the reformation. This amazing badge depicts the weapon with which Thomas Becket was martyred on 29th December 1170. The badge is remarkable not just by its size, but by the fact that the sword actually withdraws from its scabbard. In designing this badge, the craftsman used a number of elements to draw attention to its significance; on the ends of the quillons hang a pair of devils heads, highlighting the wickedness of the act of murder. In contrast, the pommel is a ring; the symbol of eternity. Lying across the sword scabbard is a shield or buckler. Canterbury, during the late 14th century, produced some of the finest quality pilgrim badges, of which this is undoubtedly one.

Original found in London.

14th century.

36x137mm over all Sword with separate scabbard, overlain by a shield. Sword slots into scabbard.
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