TODAY’S Object of the Week is one of many recovered from the depths of the River Wear in Durham by underwater archaeologist Gary Bankhead.

Heritage expert Gary has been finding small objects under the city’s Elvet Bridge for more than a decade – and has now turned his hobby into an academic career.

Today’s subject is a cast silver object in the form of a cross, with near equal length flared arms.

The obverse side is decorated with a central quatrefoil with each arm featuring a trefoil and a grouping of three raised circles.

The upper and lower arms have an additional row of three raised circles at their ends.

The trefoil on the upper arm is partially obscured by a smooth portion of metal, above which, is a slight abnormality in the form of a small ridge running almost the full width of the arm.

There are four holes within the quatrefoil, which are regularly spaced.

The rear face is flat with an undecorated surface, this has some small surface scratches and some slight corrosion on the right arm, the tip of the left arm and the tip of the upper arm.

The Northern Echo: Detail of the pilgrim’s silver cross, one of thousands of objects in the Durham River Wear AssemblageDetail of the pilgrim’s silver cross, one of thousands of objects in the Durham River Wear Assemblage

It was most likely cast using a two-part stone mould and it is possible that the abnormality and smooth area of metal, are casting flaws.

Given the Christian imagery depicted, the object’s small size and find location close to Durham Cathedral, it is probable that this object is a pilgrim badge worn by or offered for sale to a pilgrim visiting the nearby shrine of St Cuthbert.

Its discovery, along with three lead ampullae, pilgrim signs, medallions and mounts symbolic of Christian pilgrimage and other secular badges during archaeological investigations of the same submerged riverbed just downstream from the 12th century bridge, which formed one of the main thoroughfares on to the peninsular and resting place of an early English saint, adds to the assertion of a tradition of discarding specific selected objects into the river as personal acts of belief in the medieval period.

Although the cross may be a rare representation of St Cuthbert’s 7th century gold and garnet pectoral cross, it is just as likely that it is a more generic Christian cross bought to designate the wearer as a pilgrim.

The object has been gifted to the Museum of Archaeology, Durham University.

It forms part of the Durham River Wear Assemblage (, a collection of over 13,500 small finds recovered from archaeological investigations of a submerged riverbed, positioned just downstream of the 12th century Elvet Bridge in Durham City.