History of King’s Lynn in 100 Objects, No61

Lynn News - 100 objects - no 61
Lynn News - 100 objects - no 61

This week’s object is a community artwork created in 2006 by Becky Adams working with local groups on the theme of pilgrimage.

Between about 1300 and 1500, going on a pilgrimage was a widespread phenomenon.

King’s Lynn, an important medieval port, was a significant stopping off point for pilgrims, especially those en route to Walsingham in Norfolk.

This colourful pilgrimage banner can be seen hanging high up in the main gallery of Lynn Museum where also on display is a fine collection of lead pilgrim badges.

Pilgrim badges were souvenirs purchased by medieval pilgrims from shrines such as Walsingham, Canterbury and Ely where it has been estimated they were produced in hundreds of thousands.

The badges were pinned or sewn onto clothing.

Lynn Museum has one of the best collections of these badges in the country.

This was thanks to an early museum supporter Thomas Pung who paid local children to collect them from the town’s river mud.

How did they end up in the river?

Theories include deliberate deposition for good luck and accidental loss as wind blew a hat off when crossing the river.

However it may well be that they came to be discarded with household rubbish, particularly after the popularity of pilgrimage had waned.

The Lynn Museum is currently teaming up with the University of Cambridge on the #digitalpilgrim project to better understand and 
interpret these striking examples of portable medieval
 art.