- Museum number
Reliquary Pendant. Beneath a domed rock crystal, a circular gold base-plate sewn with gold wire forming loops which frame pearls around a gold-mounted wooden cross; the crystal magnifies the size of the cross and pearls; crystal and base-plate are mounted in gold surrounds and were locked together by a nut screwed down at the top; remains of two suspension loops for a chain and an inscription: (clockwise from top) '+ SEXPSTI:NINIAN / ANDREEX MAVRIS:GEORGII:MERG:D(?) NOR:F(?)ERG:B(?)O / NEF(?)SE:MARIE.' ('Of Jesus Christ, of Ninian, of Andrew of the Moors, of George, of Margaret (?), of Norbert (?), of Fergus (?), of Boniface (?), of St Mary'); backing plate exhibited separately: circular, with settings for relics, some of which survive; the central setting for a relic of the True Cross.
- Production date
- 1200 (circa)
Diameter: 52 millimetres
Height: 54.50 millimetres
Width: 52 millimetres
Depth: 28 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- One part of the reliquary, the other part 1946,0407.1a.
Text from Zarnecki et al 1984, see bibliography:
'This pendant may have been made for a bishop of Galloway, to be worn suspended from a chain around the neck or suspended near the altar. The relics were hidden from view, the image of the True Cross being represented for the spectator by means of the simple wood cross beneath the crystal, which is not itself a relic. The abbreviated names in the relic list are not all easy to decipher, but if the present reading is correct, the list includes Sts Andrew, Fergus and Margaret, all of whom are suggestive of a Scottish origin for the reliquary. St Norbert of Xanten was founder of the Order of the Regular Canons of Prémontré, and St Ninian apostle of Cumberland and Galloway. Since the Cathedral of Galloway at Whithorn was Premonstratensian and closely associated with the cult of St Ninian, who heads the list of saints on the reliquary, the pendant has been attributed to an early bishop of Galloway, a see which was revived under the province of York, probably c.1128.'
A. B. Tonnochy, 'The Ninian Reliquary', The British Museum Quarterly, 1952, vol. xv, p77.
C. A. Ralegh Radford, 'Two reliquaries connected with South-West Scotland', Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society for 1953-54, 1955, vol: 3rd series; xxxii, pp119-23.
- On display (G40/dc13/sB/no2)
- Exhibition history
2012 10 Apr-31 Oct, Whithorn Trust, Whithorn Reliquary.
2011 23 June-9 Oct, London, BM, 'Treasures of Heaven'
2011 13 Feb-8 May, Baltimore, Walters Museum of Art, 'Treasures of Heaven'
2010-2011 17 Oct-6 Jan, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, 'Treasures of Heaven'
1990, London, The British Museum, 'Fake: the Art of Deception'
1984 5 Apr-8 Jul, London, Hayward Gallery, English Romanesque Art 1066-1200
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Obtained by Elestein from the Westminster Bank Ltd acting as trustee for a deceased client. It had been in the possession of the same family in this country for over 50 years, but the former owner and his wife died and no other relatives were known.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number