Hockley pendant by Unknown Artist

The pendant is engraved on the front with a standing female saint (probably the Virgin Mary) holding a cross spattered with blood.


Details

Medium:
Gold & silver & copper
Dimensions:
3.3 x 2.5 cm
Art Fund grant:
£20,000 ( Total: £70,000)
Acquired in:
2012
Vendor:
Department for Culture, Media and Sport

The saint stands on a chequerboard design, probably indicating a tiled floor or pavement. The reverse of the pendant is engraved with the five wounds of Christ. Around the edge is an inscription consisting of the names of the three wise men - Jasper, Melchior and Balthasar. These words were credited with healing powers as a charm against fever and the falling-down sickness (now identified as epilepsy). The reliquary is a rare survival of pre-Reformation English devotional jewellery. The engravings demonstrate how devotion to the Virgin at the time was inextricably linked with images of the suffering Christ, represented symbolically rather than figuratively through the blood and wounds and the cross of the crucifixion. The use of images of the intense suffering of Christ held particular sway in England from the fourteenth century due to the writings of mystics such as Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton and Julian of Norwich. This pendant was featured in the ITV series 'Britain's Buried Treasure' in July 2012 as one of the fifty most important archaeological finds made by the British public.

Provenance

Found by metal detectorists James and Jason Hyatt in Hockley Essex and declared Treasure in 2009.

Venue details

British Museum Great Russell Street, LONDON London WC1B 3DG 020 7323 8299 www.britishmuseum.org

Entry details

50% off with National Art Pass

Daily, 10am – 5.30pm (Fri until 8.30pm)

Closed 24 – 26 Dec and 1 Jan

Share this article