Archbishop Nichols' Pilgrim's Badge

Contributed by AHOTW People

Archbishop Nichols' Pilgrim's Badge

Image 1 of 2

This small, fragile object is about 600 years old, yet neither rare nor precious.

It is a souvenir, bought by a pilgrim at Canterbury in the 14th century. it depicts Sir Thomas of Canterbury, murdered by knights loyal to King Henry II who had, in frustration, asked: who will rid me of this troublesome priest?

These pilgrim badges were mass produced in low grade pewter. They were worn on the pilgrim's hat, and no doubt swapped for other similar badges on the pilgrim route. Not much changes there! It was discovered in the Thames' mud at Billingsgate in the 1980s when metal detectors were coming into popular use. Perhaps it had been thrown there as a peace offering for a safe crossing.

This badge has so many resonances: the restlessness of our hearts as we seek God; the on-going tension between the call of faith and the demands of state; the loving devotion in which we hold our heroes; the companionshop of pilgrimage through life.

For me, too, it points to the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom this September. For many his presence will awaken memories of faith, so easily buried in the mud of a busy life. He will be here as a pilgrim of faith in our world today.

Comments are closed for this object

Most of the content on A History of the World is created by the contributors, who are the museums and members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC or the British Museum. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site’s House Rules please Flag This Object.

About this object

Click a button to explore other objects in the timeline




14th century


View more objects from people in London.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.