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Medieval Pilgrim-Badge Making Demonstrations

Lionheart Services

Medieval pilgrim-badge making demonstrations

Pilgrim badges or ‘signs’ as they were known at the time, can in many ways be seen as the first mass-produced souvenir. With pilgrimage being a virtual obsession throughout the middle ages it was found necessary (and profitable!) to produce simple souvenirs to satisfy the pilgrims need to take away a token of the shrines ‘magic.’

The demonstration is insured by £5million public liability insurance. Please contact us for prices and availability; however remember that we are often booked well in advance so please enquire well in advance.

Limestone moulds with casting
Our demonstration follows the medieval technique of pilgrim badge making in every respect. The moulds are created by engraving the design into a block of fine-grained Solnhofen limestone. Although this was the favoured stone of the period, being imported from Bavaria specifically for the purpose, it is today very difficult to source.

Once the mould is completed, the signs are cast in exactly the grade of metal that was favoured at the time, this being an alloy of tin and lead mixed to a specific proportion (differing from the metal used to produce our commercial products which is made from lead free pewter.) The alloy operates at a low temperature, allowing us to melt it over a simple charcoal fired brazier.

Authenticity, combined with entertainment are important aspects of our demonstration; we are dressed in authentic late medieval clothing (not fancy dress!) and the demonstration is based around either a replica medieval tent, or, if space is tight, from a wooden framed medieval market booth (suitable for hard standing).

A limited demonstration can be carried out indoors, either without the casting process, or using an electric melting pot in place of the brazier. 

Casting a badge

The workshop set up at Rievaulx Abbey

Our demonstration has become very popular with museums and historic sites, either as general entertainment or in a more specific educational role. Past customers have included museums such as the Ashmolean Museum, Canterbury Museum, Winchester Museum, Chesterfield Museum & The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum; castles such as Hever and Corfe Castles, plus major organisations such as English Heritage and The National Trust. We have also appeared on Channel 4’s ‘Time Team Live’ and BBC2’s ‘Meet The Ancestors.’