Pilgrim Badges in England and Wales

Principal investigator: John Dinges
Level: Masters degree

I am currently a graduate student at the University of Oxford reading for an M.Phil in Archaeology. My thesis project, which will be completed in June 2020, will focus on the late medieval pilgrim badges of England and Wales. The potential to "shed light on a wide range of popular medieval imagery, beliefs, and religious practices and on many aspects of everyday life" (Spencer 1998, 1) coupled with unclear assessments of the distribution and indeed function of these objects across England (See Locker 2015, 168) requires a reappraisal of the pilgrim badge data which has been accumulated by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

This study will seek to investigate the recognized mid-14th-15th century proliferation of pilgrim badges which came to displace the previously ubiquitous ampullae as the primary 'souvenir' of pilgrimage and devotion in Britain. When consideration is given to the religious, social, and historical context enveloping this profound transition in the form of mass-produced, affordable material culture, it is my contention that medieval understandings of what a pilgrim badge communicated in England and Wales shifted as well. Through an interrogation of the PAS dataset, this project will consider the distribution of pilgrim badges across England and Wales, a distribution that I believe will reflect elements of expanding lay education in religious knowledge and subsequent social and religious dissent.

Locker, M. (2015). Landscapes of Pilgrimage in Medieval Britain.

Spencer, B. (1998). Pilgrim Souvenirs and Secular Badges.


Dr Eleanor Standley, Associate Professor of Later Medieval Archaeology, School of Archaeology (Oxford)

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