St George and the Dragon
Tuesday, 23rd April, 2013
Did 15th Century knight own this jewellery found near Carlisle?
His startled-looking foe turns to face the impending death blow from England’s patron saint.
Experts think these rare and exquisite figures of St George and the Dragon found in the Carlisle area last year may have adorned the clothing of a 15th-century knight.
Stuart Noon, a Portable Antiquities Scheme finds liaison officer for Lancashire and Cumbria, said: “It’s a really unusual piece, incredibly detailed for something of this size.
“I don’t know how they made it. It really is a work of art.
“Because it is so beautifully made I would think it more likely that this was the emblem of a knight rather than a pilgrim’s badge*.
“It’s quite a high status piece made by a top craftsman and I suspect it would belong to someone high up.”
This discovery, which has been designated as a find of note, has been dubbed the Cumbrian Dragon.
The finely detailed silver gilt cast figures possibly marked its owner as a member of the mysterious chivalric order of St George.
It is thought that it could have been worn on the doublet over the knight’s gambeson. The prestigious knightly order of St George of which he could have been a member dates back to 1326 but little is known about it.
The objects are still being valued but Tullie House on Castle Street has already registered an interest in acquiring them.
Tim Padley, the museum’s keeper of archaeology, said: “We expressed an interest because it is local and it would form an unusual addition to our medieval collections.”
He added that the museum could not make a decision on whether to acquire it until after the valuation.
A small loop on St George’s back suggests that the emblem was attached to cloth rather than metal.
A metal detectorist made the discovery in April 2011.
It is understood that he found the dragon first and came back to find St George.
The two would have originally been locked together in combat but became separated.
St George’s now broken lance may have run through the coils of the dragon’s tail or the knight may have gripped his enemy by the tail. The knight’s hands are covered plated mitts and he is wearing full plate armour which would be a feature of this period.
George stands a mere 40mm tall and weighs 8.43g – just over half the weight of a 50 pence piece.
The length of the dragon is 30mm and weighs 6.33g, about the same as a 10 pence piece.
A medieval silver pilgrim badge has been found in a garden in Bolton, near Appleby.
The 15th century badge, commemorating St George, is now being held by The Friends of Penrith and Eden Museum.
Dr. Sydney Chapman is the Curator of the museum, he said:
“The badge has been valued at £400 by the Treasure Valuation Committee and thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the Museum it has been purchased and added to our current displays.
“The badge shows the Saint on horseback with a sword in his right hand raised above his head; beneath the feet of his horse lies the dragon.
“The cult of St. George flourished in England in the 15 Century in particular when pilgrims would visit St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, which held the relic of the Saint’s heart.”
People can now view the pilgrim badge for free at the Penrith and Eden Museum.