Somerset

Thomas a Becket casket on show at Museum of Somerset

Becket casket on display at Museum of Somerset
Image caption The casket is being loaned from the Victoria and Albert Museum

A casket depicting the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th Century is going on display in Taunton.

The Becket Casket loaned from the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum will be exhibited at the Museum of Somerset.

V&A curator, Kirstin Kennedy, said: "It's gives people the opportunity to share our objects and inspire people with them."

St Thomas Becket was killed in 1170 by knights from Somerset and Devon who were followers of King Henry II.

Head of museums for the South West Heritage Trust, Steve Minnitt said: "The casket has special significance for the West Country.

"Three of the four knights involved in Becket's murder had close West Country associations.

"Richard le Breton, who struck the fatal blow, held land at Sampford Bret and Reginald Fitzurse was a landowner in Williton where he lived for a time. William de Tracy was feudal baron of Bradninch, near Exeter."

The casket was made in France in 1180 and is about 30 cm high and 30 cm wide.

Becket rose in favour with King Henry II and was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162.

But his friendship with the king did not survive and on 29 December 1170 he was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral.

There was outrage throughout Europe over his murder and Becket's tomb became a place of pilgrimage.

His relics became highly sought after and some were placed in caskets - this particular object is the earliest and largest known casket that survives.

The casket will be on display until 2 April.

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