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Study indentifies scallop shell history surrounding pilgrims


Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
I came across this in my daily reading and thought some might be interested. I was - very.

As before, some browsers will convert this to English on the fly. I am trying to improve my Spanish comprehension by trying to read in Spanish first, before converting using the computer.

Either way, I hope you enjoy this article.

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John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
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Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2016, del Norte 2019
Thanks for posting the PDF, this is so fascinating! How interesting to find that half of medieval pilgrims were upper class women! I think of Margery Kempe and Brigid of Sweden as medieval case studies of this.


Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Portuguese, Aragon, Norte, SJWayUK, Nive
I encourage everyone to read that original article, if only for the background on the history of the pilgrimage and how it evolved into one the more common villager could undertake due to the existence of religious hospice groups. i continue to be amazed at those who research sleeping bags, the best Albergues, and bedbugs for hundreds of hours but then fail to try to understand the history of the path they will be following.


Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Thank you very much, @t2andreo. This allowed me to find the actual study which is available online on ScienceDirect:
Thank you.

Pardon my cynical view of archaeology as more properly belonging in an arts faculty along with other branches of creative writing, but the rub in this is the statement that:
Of these individuals, 20 were identified as pilgrims as they were buried with the scallop shell
from the paper linked by @Kathar1na.

I don't have access to the sources that might establish that this is more than just a plausible link, and that there is some evidence that the only individuals buried with a scallop shell were pilgrims. Without that, I would suggest that relying on such a linkage would not be sustained in any form of real science. Even if it looks to contemporary descriptions of pilgrim behaviour, it seems little more than well informed speculation that anyone buried with a scallop shell must have been a pilgrim.

Keith H

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
I was in Prague in December and visited a famous library there. It was interesting that in the libraries exhibits were various shells. The scallop shells on display predominantly had a hole for a string in the base. There was no one to ask about them but it did make me 🤔
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.

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