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souvenir / pilgrim badge

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    2001,0702.2

  • Description

    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.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1250 - 1350 (circa)
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • 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.

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  • Bibliography

    • Spencer 1998 pp.75-76, fig.28a bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:
    2011 23 June-9 Oct, London, BM, 'Treasures of Heaven'
    2010-2011 17 Oct-6 Jan, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, 'Treasures of Heaven'

  • Condition

    Good.

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated places

  • Associated events

    • Associated Event: Martrydom of St Thomas à Becket
      1170
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    2001

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    2001,0702.2

Lead alloy pilgrim souvenir modelled in the round in the form of Becket riding a peacock; the figure of Becket has its head missing but the peacock retains its tail feathers and has a frontal spike, possibly for the suspension of a Canterbury bell.  The basal collar is perforated perhaps to fix it as a staff mount.

Group of Objects

Lead alloy pilgrim souvenir modelled in the round in the form of Becket riding a peacock; the figure of Becket has its head missing but the peacock retains its tail feathers and has a frontal spike, possibly for the suspension of a Canterbury bell. The basal collar is perforated perhaps to fix it as a staff mount.

Image description

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Object reference number: MCM20441

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