Moulding Dissent: late medieval pilgrim signs and their political role in Britain

Principal investigator: John Dinges
Level: PhD level research

This study will seek to evaluate the social, religious, and political status of late medieval pilgrim signs within the context of Britain c.AD 1300-1600. Analysis of the use and distribution of pilgrim badge and ampulla finds has the potential to produce significant interpretations relating to dissenting populations of this period. My M.Phil thesis ( acted as a pilot study in which I demonstrated that pilgrim signs played an active role in society in Norfolk and Lincolnshire, and that their distributions encompassed contemporary religious and political beliefs. The observed scarcity of badges in communities documented as having significant Lollard populations revealed the extent of religious dissent throughout the calamitous 14th and 15th centuries, while the curation and distribution of pilgrim signs throughout Orthodox Catholic communities during times of strife illuminated the manner in which the cult of saints was manipulated for political purposes. Expanding this study to the rest of Britain in the D.Phil will allow a fuller and deeper exploration and evaluation of the role that pilgrim signs and cults played in socio-political and religious events during the 14th -16th centuries.


Dr Eleanor Standley

Associate Professor of Later Medieval Archaeology, School of Archaeology (p/t)

Curator of Medieval Archaeology, Ashmolean Museum (p/t)

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