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Scallop shells

St Albans, Hertfordshire, January 2021

I don’t know exactly why there are scallop shells embedded in the walls close to St Albans Cathedral, but I have a couple of theories.

One is that they are there to remind us of the stunning scallop shell mosaic created by the Romans and found by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in the 1930s. It is now on display in the local museum.

The other theory is that it represents the pilgrimages that many make to St Albans. The scallop shell has long been a symbol of pilgrimage, tightly connected to the Camino de Santiago in particular. Needless to say there are many theories about this tradition too, and a strong one is that the shell is used a drinking utensil, scooping water from streams as pilgrims head to their destination.


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Copyright Debbie Smyth, 5 May 2021

Posted as part of Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge

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