London – City of London – Museum of London (Pilgrimage Badge – Becket in 1170)

The Museum of London has placed some of its large collection of pilgrimage badges on display, part of what was meant to be an exhibition marking 850 years since the death of Thomas Becket. I like pilgrimage badges, they were produced in vast quantities and modern examples still exist for those who walk routes such as the Camino de Santiago (many other routes also exist, although that’s the one I did and so that’s the one that’s getting mentioned here).

This badge is made from pewter and dates to the end of the fourteenth century, marking when Thomas Becket returned from exile in 1170. He was murdered in Canterbury just a few weeks later by knights who misunderstood what King Henry II wanted. There are numerous figures on the badge, there’s Becket himself, along with a knight, a clerk, a companion of Becket and sailors.

Pilgrimage badges aren’t rare, but they all hold the same historic value that it was likely a treasured possession of someone who had gone on a pilgrimage, often a dangerous journey, and it would have been of great symbolism to them.