It's amazing how sometimes little snippets of information fall into your lap - watching the news last week there was an article about the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall, and a new exhibition on tattoos that they were putting on.
The article itself was fascinating - and further information on the exhibition can be found here: https://nmmc.co.uk/whats-on/event/tattoo-british-tattoo-art-revealed/ What pricked my ears up was the mention of Mediaeval Pilgrimage tattoos.
It has long been known that Sir Thomas Markenfield (Thomas V) made a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the 1560s, including a visit to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. We know this as a long list of places that he visited still exists.
At the end of his Pilgrimage Sir Thomas was admitted to the Order of the Holy Sepulchre on 14 June 1566. His citation sets out his credentials:
The warrant was sealed with with the seal of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. To become a member of the Order was considered by Roman Catholics to be an honor worth more than any knighthood conferred by their own Sovereign.
"Accounts of crusaders visiting the Holy Land reveal that tattoos could also serve as permanent proof of pilgrimage trips. One person who has done a great deal of work on pilgrim tattoos is Dr. Anna Felicity Friedman at the Center for Tattoo History and Culture. As she notes, it is likely that "tattoo practitioners and tattoo recipients looked at and drew from common Christian symbols and iconography around them for inspiration for their tattooed marks of faith." " Forbes.com
Was Sir Thomas Markenfield a tattooed pilgrim? We will probably never know, but the the tattoo shop he may have used still exists to this day:
With thanks to Janet Senior's book The Markenfields of Markenfield Hall for the information on Thomas V.