Rare basilisk dragon badge found in Poland

A rare medieval pilgrim’s badge depicting a basilisk has been found in the village of Wólka Nieliska, located within Zamość County, Poland.

The pilgrim’s badge, also known as a “pilgrim’s sign”, is an openwork pendant cast from an alloy of lead and tin. It has a depiction of a basilisk, a reptile reputed to be a serpent king.

- Advertisement -

According to legend, the basilisk is hatched by a cockerel from the egg of a serpent or toad and was reputed to cause death to those who look into its eyes. In medieval depictions they often take on characteristics of cockerels, and in some versions of the myth had the ability to breath fire.

The basilisk appears in the English Revised Version of the Bible in Isaiah 14:29 in the prophet’s exhortation to the Philistines reading, “Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of thee, because the rod that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a basilisk, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.”

According to the Lublin Provincial Conservator of Monuments, the pendant has a circular shape with a diameter of 2.8 cm’s. “It represents a ‘basilisk’ dragon enclosed in a circle. Such badges served as a kind of talisman, intended to ensure the wearer’s success in travel and to protect such a person against all kinds of evil, i.e. assault, theft, disease and other random accidents”.

Such finds in Poland are incredibly rare, but they are generally found in Western Europe and date from the early Middle Ages. Pilgrim’s badges can come in all forms of shapes and sizes, depicting images of saints, knights, zoomorphic figurines, as well as human forms and figures.

- Advertisement -

The oldest examples date from the 11th century and are connected with the Way of St. James, also known as the Camino de Santiago. The Way of St. James is a network of pilgrims’ ways or pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostle James in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain.

Header Image Credit : Lublin Provincial Conservator of Monuments

Sources : PAP – Medieval pilgrim’s badge found in the Zamość district

- Advertisement -
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

Mobile Application


Related Articles

BU archaeologists uncover Iron Age victim of human sacrifice

Archaeologists from Bournemouth University have uncovered an Iron Age victim of human sacrifice in Dorset, England.

Archaeologists find ancient papyri with correspondence made by Roman centurions

Archaeologists from the University of Wrocław have uncovered ancient papyri that contains the correspondence of Roman centurions who were stationed in Egypt.

Study indicates that Firth promontory could be an ancient crannog

A study by students from the University of the Highlands and Islands has revealed that a promontory in the Loch of Wasdale in Firth, Orkney, could be the remains of an ancient crannog.

Archaeologists identify the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II

Archaeologists from Sorbonne University have identified the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II, otherwise known as Ramesses the Great.

Archaeologists find missing head of Deva from the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom

Archaeologists from Cambodia’s national heritage authority (APSARA) have discovered the long-lost missing head of a Deva statue from the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom.

Archaeologists search crash site of WWII B-17 for lost pilot

Archaeologists from Cotswold Archaeology are excavating the crash site of a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress in an English woodland.

Roman Era tomb found guarded by carved bull heads

Archaeologists excavating at the ancient Tharsa necropolis have uncovered a Roman Era tomb guarded by two carved bull heads.

Revolutionary war barracks discovered at Colonial Williamsburg

Archaeologists excavating at Colonial Williamsburg have discovered a barracks for soldiers of the Continental Army during the American War of Independence.