Becket Casket, Museum no. M.66-1977

Becket Casket
Gilded coper and champlevé enamel on a wooden core
Limoges, France
About 1180
Museum no. M.66-1977
Purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, with contributions from the Po Shing Woo Foundation, the Art Fund, the Friends of the V&A, the estate of T S Eliot, the Headley Trust and many private donations.

The murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170 stunned the Christian world. Canterbury Cathedral immediately became a major pilgrimage site and a shrine was built over his grave. This box commemorates Becket's martyrdom and may have contained relics. The front depicts the murder. The lid shows his burial and his soul ascending to Heaven. Limoges enamellers produced many boxes depicting Becket's death of which this is probably the earliest to survive.