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This medieval pilgrim badge would have been sold near the shrine of the first British martyr, St Alban. According to legend, the Romano-Briton was executed for refusing to renounce his Christianity. The executioner’s eyes were then said to fallen out, so that he could not take pleasure in the sight of St Alban’s corpse. The openwork badge was cast in a mould. It shows the headless body of the saint kneeling on the left and the soldier standing to the right, reaching up to his eyeballs which have dropped to his chest. The pair are separated by a tree and the executioner’s sword and framed by an arch formed of two trees. This scene appears in other, richer media too. Its alarming content emphasises Alban’s status as holy martyr through the circumstances of his death. A pilgrim to St Alban’s Abbey might have bought this badge as a sign of his or her special relationship with St Alban. The pin on the reverse would have allowed it to be fixed to a hat or bag.
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