Pilgrim badge: Thomas Becket- the murder weapon
Time period:14th Century
Product Dimensions: 3.6cm width x 13.7cm length including the sword.
Sword with separate scabbard, overlain by a shield; the sword slots into the scabbard. As Reginald Fitzurse delivered the fatal blow to Becket’s head, the tip of his sword broke on the floor of the chapel. At the altar set up on the site of the murder, the weapon, supposedly stained with Becket’s blood, was displayed to pilgrims. This must have been one of the most powerful images presented to pilgrims at Canterbury, and it seems that it remained a major attraction right up until the reformation.
This amazing badge depicts the weapon with which Thomas Becket was martyred on 29th December 1170. The badge is remarkable not just by its size, but by the fact that the sword actually withdraws from its scabbard. In designing this badge, the craftsman used a number of elements to draw attention to its significance; on the ends of the quillons hang a pair of devils heads, highlighting the wickedness of the act of murder. In contrast, the pommel is a ring; the symbol of eternity. Lying across the sword scabbard is a shield or buckler. Canterbury, during the late 14th century, produced some of the finest quality pilgrim badges, of which this is undoubtedly one.