Female travellers and pilgrims

Golden Fibula

This fibula belongs to the funerary objects found in the tomb of a Visigoth woman from Turuñuelo in the province of Badajoz. The woman, deceased towards the end of the 6th century, must have belonged to an upper social class. Workers at the farm where the tomb was found nicknamed it “the queen´s dowry” given the treasures within: threads, a ring with an inscription, earrings, and trinkets… all made of gold.

One item that stands out is a fibula that represents the Adoration of the Magi with an inscription in Greek asking the Virgin Mary for protection for its holder. This piece appears to be of Byzantine origin and reflects the existence of trade relations between the eastern Mediterranean and the Iberian Peninsula during this period. We even have reports of female travellers, such as the case of sister Egeria, who went on a pilgrimage from Hispania to the Holy Lands in the 4th century, as described in the book she wrote upon her return. Such women challenged the patriarchal norm that preferred to keep women sitting at home. Egeria travelled out of curiosity, and occupied a men´s symbolic place. We do not know whether or not this was true for the holder of the fibula, who acquired an exceptional object from faraway lands and decided to be buried with it.