The holy thorn reliquary and cultural heritage
A thorn, a valueless piece of wood, is displayed in an exquisite box made of gold and precious stones, and ornamented with intricate figures and symbols. This rare artefact showcases a worthless item, but for the meaning attached to it – the belief that it comes from the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus Christ, during the Crucifixion. In the British Museum, the reliquary is one among many objects displayed for their tangible rather than intangible values. Thus, it becomes a metaphor for the definition of heritage, the identification of heritage values and the framework of cultural heritage law.