Medieval Lead Pilgrim’s Ampulla

Item Description

C. 15th century

A nice example of a lead ampulla, decorated with an open pouch with a reverse “R” above, which may stand for “Richelde”. The other side depicts the “long arrow” of  Walsingham, with its tip in the form of the letter “V”, within a double circle border, which may stand for “Virgo”.

During the twelfth through fourteenth centuries, pilgrims were likely to purchase an ampulla, a type of container filled with holy water or oil. These could be purchased outside the shrines of a revered saint. The lure of the ampulla as an object capable of bestowing holy miracles gave it the same appeal as a relic. Thus, when pilgrims were not wearing their ampulla around their necks, they were using the contents within them to try to administer cures.

Intact with both handles and in good condition for lead with nice detail.

Ref: Medieval Pilgrim & Secular Badges by Mitchiner, similar example to page 141

Provenance: Ex Cambridge Collection

Size: 44mm height



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