The relics of Thomas Becket in England

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Abstract

While Becket’s relics are likely to have been owned by institutions and individuals throughout much of later medieval England, the reliable surviving evidence for them is limited. Without pretending to anything like completeness, the present essay assesses a range of sources in order to determine (or at least suggest) their usefulness for constructing a historically rooted understanding of the definition, distribution, appearance, and housing of Becket-relics. The approach taken arises partially from an ambition to cover as much ground as possible in the available space, and partially from misgivings about the value of documents whose original contexts cannot be satisfactorily reconstructed. The analysis is intended to contribute to scholarship on the cult of Becket generally in later medieval England: to this end, evidence has been sought widely and Canterbury receives less attention than the reader might expect, although the essay turns to the cathedral priory at the end.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the British Archaeological Association
Volume173
Early online date6 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Cult of relics
  • Medieval art
  • Pilgrimage
  • St Thomas Becket

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