PAS-B1BD65: St Thomas Pilgrim Badge

Rights Holder: The British Museum
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Unique ID: PAS-B1BD65

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Cast lead-alloy pilgrim badge of the 'head reliquary' of St Thomas Becket. It is in the shape of the bust (head and shoulders) of the saint, shown wearing a bishop's mitre and an elaborate collared amice (an ecclesiastical vestment covering the shoulders). The face is schematic, with large eyes under eyebrows, a bold nose and a possible moustache. The mitre has a band around its lower edge and up the centre, decorated with ring-and-dot to indicate jewels; its outer border has plain beading. An outward-curling lock of hair escapes from each side of the mitre. The wide upright collar of the amice has no clear decoration surviving, but on the chest are two circular ornaments and some smaller pellets. The lower border of the amice (and of the badge itself) is decorated with beading. Part of the top of the mitre is missing, but otherwise the badge is complete. A pin survives on the reverse.

The badge is relatively crudely modelled, and is similar to, but slightly smaller than, badges found in Salisbury (Spencer 1990, 19-20, nos. 19-22, figs. 23-28) and London (Spencer 1998, no. 117). A similar badge was found on the Thames foreshore together with four groats dating from 1427-1434 (Spencer 1998, 117, no. 117a), perhaps suggesting a 15th-century date for this example.

These badges commemorated the Canterbury reliquary known as Caput Sancti Thome or the Head of St Thomas, which contained part of the skull of Thomas Becket. It was expensively re-fashioned in the early 14th century, and seems to have become especially popular as a focus for pilgrimage after that time; badges of this form are the commonest type of pilgrim souvenir in Europe (Spencer 1990, 20; Spencer 1998, 102-117).


This is one of a number of pilgrim badges recovered from the River Stour; the group is being analysed by Michael Lewis.

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: Canterbury Museum
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by a museum - not a Treasure case


Broad period: MEDIEVAL
Period from: MEDIEVAL
Period to: MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1300
Date to: Circa AD 1500

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Height: 31.5 mm
Width: 18.63 mm
Thickness: 5.55 mm
Weight: 2.92 g

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Dr Michael Lewis
Identified by: Dr Michael Lewis
Secondary identifier: Dr Helen Geake

Materials and construction

Primary material: Lead Alloy
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Kent (County)
District: Canterbury (District)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: TR1457
Four figure Latitude: 51.27195
Four figure longitude: 1.066565
1:25K map: TR1457
1:10K map: TR15NW
Grid reference source: Generated from computer mapping software
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Discovery circumstances: Mudlarking
Current location: Canterbury Museum
General landuse: Open fresh water
Specific landuse: Running water

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: PAS
Created: 6 years ago
Updated: 6 years ago

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