- Museum number
Lead alloy pilgrim souvenir modelled in the round in the form of Becket riding a peacock; the figure of Becket is headless but the peacock retains tail feathers and has a frontal hook, possibly for the suspension of a Canterbury bell. The basal collar is perforated perhaps to fix it as a staff mount. This piece is associated with the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury.
- Production date
- 1250 - 1350 (circa)
Height: 50.08 millimetres
Width: 27.28 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The association of Becket with a peacock is enigmatic. The peacock was read as a symbol of vanity. Since Becket rides the peacock 'in triumph' the peacock might be seen to indicate the pride of Henry II. However, since the peacock's flesh was considered to be incorruptible it could also be seen as a symbol of immortality. A further possibility is that the peacock signified that a vow was made at the shrine according to the medieval practice of swearing vows on noble birds.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2021 20 May- 22 Aug, London, BM, Room 35 – Thomas Becket: Murder and the Making of a Saint
2011 23 June-9 Oct, London, BM, 'Treasures of Heaven'
2010-2011 17 Oct-6 Jan, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, 'Treasures of Heaven'
- Associated events
- Associated Event: Martrydom of St Thomas à Becket 1170
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number