In all my years Metal Detecting and the thousands of hours I have spent walking Englands wonderful land, it took me nearly 28 years before I found my first Pilgrims Ampulla. Even in the Metal Detecting club I belong too, I have only ever seen a few of them found. So what is a Pilgrims Ampulla? What was its purpose and why is it that they are so difficult to find. Well hopefully I can answer some of these questions.
Here is the Ampulla that I found Metal Detecting. It dates to the 15th century AD. A cast hollow lead ampulla with suspension loops to contain holy water from a shrine showing a scallop shell design on one side.
Another example of a lovely Medieval lead pilgrim's Ampulla found in Lincolnshire (not by me).
A lead medieval flask shaped ampulla circa 15th century.Both faces have relief mouldered decoration,
one face has a petalled flower,the other has the letter W,which means the Lady Of Walsingham
with cross hatching design.
Another fine example of an ampulla. This time with initials S.B.
These Ampulla's were bought from various religious sites around the country. They were filled with either holy water or oils and taken back home. It was believed that if the contents were released onto the land, then a better harvest would be forthcoming.
The Ampullas were made of lead and came in many different varieties. Some were quite ornate, others were plain. They always had lugs to hang around the person. However many that are found are damaged. This is down to a few reasons. The first is that they are quite large and lead is quite easily damaged. The other is simply that often to get at the contents, the opening would often have to be damaged.
These Ampullas really are quite collectable.