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pseudo-penannular brooch

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Silver pseudo-penannular brooch with plain hoop of oval section cast with subrectangular terminals which are linked by a narrow bar with two lines of hatched ornament. Each terminal has, on the front, a deep circular setting, now empty, framed by a scalloped collar and edged by animal interlace. The back of each has a chunky bird with curled crest and a pair of two-clawed feet, all set in a frame. The body, head and tail are emphasised by an inner line. Worn gilding remains all over the decorated surfaces on the front and runs on to the end of the hoop, and gilding remains in the recessed background of the birds in their panels. The pin is missing and the outer corners of the terminals are cut away and the linking bar cut through at one side.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 9thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 47 millimetres (hoop)
    • Weight: 19.1 grammes (hoop only)
  • Curator's comments

    Youngs 1989a
    This brooch is one of two (see 1872,0520.15) found in 1836 near St Senan's Abbey. A very similar example comes from Donegal (1893,0618,25). The Scattery provenances, dating and significance of the group were established by Graham-Campbell (1972). The increased availability and hence use of silver and the development of new styles in the metal characterise the changes in Irish brooch styles in the ninth century under the influence of Anglo-Carolingian art, seen here in the marginal animals and birds. The elusive ancestry of the bird may be connected with the two-footed, crested birds in profile inhabiting a q initial in a late eighth-century gospel book (Alexander, J.J.G. 1978. ‘Insular Manuscripts, 6th to the 9th century, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles’, vol. I, London, no. 34). This brooch, along with 1872,0520.15, is an outlier of two groups which appear to be restricted to the northern part of Ireland and perhaps represent regional styles.

    Date given as mid-late 9th century.

    Bibliography: Smith, R.A. 1914. Irish Brooches of Five Centuries, ‘Archaeologia’ LXV, 248-9, pl. XXVI, 4; Graham-Campbell, J. 1972. Two groups of ninth-century Irish brooches, ‘Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland’ 102, 117ff., pl. 19.Bibliography: Journal of British Archaeological Association 1848-49 p.316.


  • Bibliography

    • Graham-Campbell 1972 117ff., pl. 19 bibliographic details
    • Youngs 1989a 87 bibliographic details
    • Graham-Campbell & Briggs 1986 p.310 bibliographic details
    • Cahill & O Floinn 1995 pp.65-83 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G41/dc16/sA

  • Exhibition history

    1990-1991 Oct-Feb, Edinburgh, Royal Museum of Scotland, The Work of Angels: Masterpieces of Irish Metalwork
    1990 7 May-30 Sep, Dublin, National Museum of Ireland, The Work of Angels: Masterpieces of Irish Metalwork
    1989-1990 29 Nov-29 Apr, London, British Museum, The Work of Angels: Masterpieces of Irish Metalwork

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number



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Object reference number: MCS14826

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