LANCUM-40B516 AMPULLA

Lead-alloy ampulla dating from the medieval period. It is decorated with a shell on one side; the other side is plain. The small handles are broken off; the top is still pinched shut. Brian Spencer writes: ‘Ampullae or miniature phials were an important kind of souvenir. Generally flask-shaped, but with a narrow, flattish section, they were designed to contain a dose of the thaumaturgic water that was dispensed to pilgrims at many shrines and holy wells. Ampullae were made of tin or lead or tin-lead alloy and were provided with a pair of handles or loops so that they could be suspended from a cord or chain around the wearer’s neck. Coming into use in the last quarter of the twelfth century, they were, in England, almost the only kind of pilgrim souvenir to be had during the thirteenth century. They were nevertheless available at a number of shrines, and thanks to returning pilgrims or to local entrepreneurs, probably featured as secondary relics in virtually every thirteenth-century English parish church. Until the early fourteenth century, ampullae took various forms, were frequently inscribed and usually bore representations of the cult figure or relic that they were intended to commemorate…The scallop, besides being the badge of St James di Compostela, was the emblem of pilgrimage itself. Canterbury, therefore, took the instantly and universally recognisable scallo-shell as the decoration for the fronts of some of the earliest ampullae, and the same motif was later adopted at other shrines, including, probably, Walsingham, with its well or wells of healing water Chronology Broad period: MEDIEVAL Period from: MEDIEVAL Period to: MEDIEVAL Date from: Circa AD 1300 Date to: Circa AD 1600

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s