Becket on a Peacock
This lead alloy pilgrim souvenir shows St Thomas Becket riding a peacock; the figure is headless but the peacock still has a frontal hook, possibly for the suspension of a small Canterbury bell. The hollow cylinder at the base is perforated, perhaps by a nail that once allowed it to be fixed to the top of a staff.
Becket became Archbishop after being Royal Chancellor of England. His dual roles soon placed him drastically at odds with the king, leading to his murder in the cathedral in 1170 by Henry II’s knights. A popular cult arose and he was made a saint. Lead souvenirs were sold to pilgrims to his shrine. On this example, he wears a mitre and chasuble and holds a crozier, showing his status as Archbishop. Like many of the badges in the British Museum’s collection, this object was found in the Thames.
1250 - 1350 (circa)
50.08 x 27.28 mm