Medieval Christmas token discovered in England

“A medieval Christmas token has been found during an archaeological survey in eastern England. Dating to between 1470 and 1560, the token is believed to be depicting St Nicholas.

In the medieval and early Tudor eras, on the Feast Day of St Nicholas (6th December), a choirboy in cathedrals and churches across the country was chosen to act as ‘Boy Bishop’, a parody of the Bishop over the Christmas period. It was a tradition that was also practiced in other countries including Germany, Spain and France. They would lead certain religious services, as well as processions, and would collect money for the church and their local parish.

Boy Bishops, mostly in Suffolk, also doled out tokens to the poor typically during a procession through the town, which could be spent at the Abbey in Bury St Edmunds or in the locality on food during the period of 6 December (St Nicholas Day) to 28 December (Holy Innocents Day).

Most likely from Bury St Edmunds Abbey nearly 30 miles away in Suffolk, the token found near Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk, gives us an indication of the distance people may have travelled for these festive celebrations.”

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Klaus Graf (2023, 21. Dezember). Medieval Christmas token discovered in England. Archivalia. Abgerufen am 25. Juni 2024, von

Autor: Klaus Graf

Historiker und Archivar, Blogger

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