A JEWELLED and enamelled casket depicting medieval England’s most infamous murder has gone on display at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton.

The Becket Casket, made in about 1180, held relics of St Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. He was murdered in 1170 by knights who had Somerset and Devon roots and were followers of King Henry II.

The casket, which has been loaned by the Victoria and Albert museum in London, will be displayed in Taunton until Saturday, April 2.. Entrance to the museum is free, including visiting the Becket Casket exhibition.

The Becket Casket was made in France and is elaborately constructed of wood covered in gilt-copper and enamel. It depicts Becket and his murderers, including their ringleader, the Somerset landowner Reginald Fitzurse of Williton.

Becket rose in favour with King Henry II and was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162. But his friendship with the king did not survive, and on December 29, 1170 he was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral. There was outrage throughout Europe and Becket’s tomb became a place of pilgrimage.

Steve Minnitt, Head of Museums for the South West Heritage Trust, said: “The casket has special significance for the West Country. Three of the four knights involved in Becket’s murder had close West Country associations.

"Richard le Breton, who struck the fatal blow, held land at Sampford Brett and Reginald Fitzurse was a landowner in Williton."