Medieval Badges - Wearable Art

Medieval badges were small cast metal pieces with an integral pin designed to be worn, frequently on a hat or an exposed collar.

I'm interested in figuring out the words used to name them in the Middle Ages - how those words may help us understand how badges functioned in the contexts in which they were worn and exchanged. A small pin worn on clothing is often but not always visible; though some badges were worn publically, there were other pieces which may have been worn inside or under layered cloth, and that possibility exists for any of them. For instance, objects used to secure clothing are frequently covered by other pieces of clothing; should a badge have been repurposed as a pin used in this fashion it might have disappeared into the invisible realm.

These objects are often difficult to separate from cheap jewelry on any but iconographical grounds. In terms of metal composition, manufacture, and perhaps even display they were very similar to inexpensive brooches and pins. Two catalog volumes from the Museum of London, one explicitly devoted to badges and one more broadly presenting clothing accessories, both admit the difficulty (Spencer, 1998; Egan and Pritchard, 2002).

My word list for studying Medieval Badges


The Religious and Profane Medieval Badges Foundation - You need to click around! This is based on the collection of H.J.E. van Beuningen of Rotterdam. There are English versions of most everything, I think.

De West-Frisiae 4,Metal Detecting Club Holland - the website of a group of metal detectorists with photos of their finds! Click on their names to see their individually sorted finds, or click on Index to see a category. It's frame-driven, so no direct link to their badges.


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