The Becket Casket

The Becket Casket

The Becket Casket
Limoges, France
About 1180-1190
Gilt copper and champlevé enamel on a wooden core
Width 11.4cm x height 29.9cm
Museum no. M.66-1997

This casket was probably designed to hold relics (or sacred objects) of the murdered Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket (1118-1170). Becket's murder in his own cathedral on 29 December 1170, by four knights in the service of King Henry II (r.1154-1189), provoked outrage throughout Europe. Becket was made a saint in 1173, and his shrine at Canterbury became one of the most famous in Europe.

This casket depicts the murder of Becket, his burial, and the raising of his soul to heaven. It is one of the most elaborate, the largest, and possibly the earliest in date to survive. Becket was a popular saint and he is represented on many other surviving medieval objects.