The Martyrdom of St Thomas Becket

A bigger picture

Becket was canonised in 1173, and Canterbury quickly grew to be one of the four greatest pilgrimage destinations in Europe. The significance of Becket as a saint and the importance of Canterbury as a place of pilgrimage can be seen by looking at the quantity and types of object connected with his cult. These range from the highly expensive to the cheap and mass-produced. Numerous caskets were made to hold relics of the saint; pilgrim badges and other objects were sold at shrines as evidence of pilgrimage or in the hope of continued protection.

Reliquary casket


Made in France; found in Naples, Italy.

© 2003 Society of Antiquaries of London; Becket casket

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/loan_in/b/becket_casket.aspx

Reliquary casket


Made in France.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=46916&partId=1&searchText=becket&images=true&page=1

Lead alloy pilgrim badge


The shrine of Becket.

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Lead alloy pilgrim badge


Portrait of Becket.

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Lead alloy pilgrim badge


One story told how the bells of Canterbury rang without being touched when Becket was murdered.

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Lead alloy pilgrim badge


A sword that refers to the murder of Becket.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=764082&partId=1&searchText=becket&images=true&page=1

Lead alloy flask


This may have held holy water or oil.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=51564&partId=1&searchText=becket&images=true&page=1
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The Martyrdom of St Thomas Becket