Internet InfoMedia metal detectorist stumbles upon rare medieval pilgrim badge

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A metal detectorist in southeastern Poland recently unearthed a Christian pilgrim badge from the Middle Ages, state officials say.

The badge was found in the village of Wólka Nieliska, less than 50 miles southeast of Lublin, according to the Lublin Provincial Conservator of Monuments (WKZ).

The pendant, made from lead and alloy, has a diameter of around 2.8 centimeters and is 1 millimeter thick.

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In a Facebook post that was translated to English, the WKZ said that the badge “features a dragon enclosed in a circle.”

Split image of front and back of pilgrim badge

A medieval pilgrim’s badge was found in the village of Wólka Nieliska, less than 50 miles southeast of Lublin, Poland. (Lublin Provincial Conservator of Monuments via Facebook)

Archaeologist Thomsz Murzyński told Fox News Digital that the artifact was given to him by an anonymous metal detectorist. Murzyński then handed the badge over to the government.  

Medieval pilgrims wore badges for a variety of reasons: not only did they believe it could protect them from disease and danger, but it also marked them as Christian travelers as they journeyed through unfamiliar territories. 

“Such badges served as a kind of talisman, intended to provide the person wearing it with success in the journey and to protect such a person from all kinds of ‘evil,’ i.e. assault, theft, diseases and other random accidents,” the WKZ described.

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Split image of close-ups of pilgrim badge

The badge is made from lead and alloy and has a diameter of around 2.8 centimeters. (Lublin Provincial Conservator of Monuments via Facebook)

“They were also a way to distinguish yourself and manifest your destination.”

Travelers could also purchase the badges as souvenirs at pilgrimage sites, which many did as a commemoration of their trips. According to the WKZ, not many medieval badges have been found in Poland.

The badges date back to the early Middle Ages and gained popularity in the 12th century after Thomas Becket’s death inspired mass pilgrimages to Canterbury Cathedral. Pilgrim badges fell out of favor by the 16th century.

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Medieval depiction of pilgrim journey

A 13th century Spanish miniature of a poor man and a pilgrim receiving hospitality at a monastery. (Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

According to the WKZ, the badges could depict anything from exotic animals to Christian symbols.

“They had various forms and shapes – spiral, square, in the form of cross, shells, rings, shield,” the Facebook post read. “They featured figures of saints, knights, human heads and chests, as well as zoomorphic figures (birds, animals, dragons).”

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Wide image of pilgrim badge

Archaeologists say that similar medieval pilgrim’s badges are hard to find in Poland. (Lublin Provincial Conservator of Monuments via Facebook)

Fox News Digital reached out to the WKZ for comment. 

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