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penannular brooch

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1898,0618.8

  • Description

    Leaded copper alloy penannular brooch. Plain hoop of variable cross-section, oval to subrectangular, with a slightly broader panel at the top framing four round collared recesses with inner rings and dots. The terminals are large bird heads dominated by cabochon amber eyes with an outer circle. The recesses on the hoop panel were probably settings for more amber or glass. Amber in the birds' eyes is now partly opaque, and it is not certain whether reflective foil backings were used. The thick beaks curve slightly and have an inner line in a recessed panel. The brooch back is plain. The pin has a simple hook wrapped around the hoop and broadens into a lentoid panel at the head and another halfway down the shank. The top panel has an inner frame of cast lines; the bottom is apparently textured in some way but the surface is now worn. The pin is markedly dished where it crosses the hoop.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 7thC-8thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Type series

    • Fowler B3 type
  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 29.4 millimetres (hoop)
    • Width: 7 millimetres (terminal)
    • Length: 50.5 millimetres (pin)
  • Curator's comments

    Youngs 1989a
    The ornament on this brooch appears so Germanic that it has been firmly dated to the seventh century (Henry 1965b, 58-63; Hencken 1950-1, 64), but more recent commentators argue equally firmly for the ninth century (Graham-Campbell 1973-4, 55). What is now certain, on the evidence of moulds excavated from Dunadd, Argyll, is that brooches of this type were manufactured in the Irish-ruled kingdom of Scottish Dál Riada (see brooch mould at the Scottish Historic Buildings and Monuments Directorate, DA 653). The excavator now argues for a seventh-century date for these moulds on the evidence of radiocarbon dates and associated finds. Another bird-headed brooch of rather different form is known from Lagore. The only annular brooch of top quality which has bird heads of this type is the one found at Hunterston in western Scotland (National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh no. FC8). It is noted that early zoomorphic brooches often have a short pin which is markedly dished like the pin on this brooch, reinforcing an early date for the piece.

    Bibliography: Smith, R.A. 1923. ‘British Museum Guide to Anglo-Saxon and Foreign Teutonic Antiquities’, London, 133-4; Rynne, E. 1965. A bronze ring brooch from Luce Sands, Wigtownshire, its affinities and significance, ‘Transactions of the Dumfries and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society’, vol. xliii, 103; Hencken, H. O’N. 1950-1. Lagore Crannog: an Irish royal residence of the 7th to 10th centuries A.D. ‘Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy’ 53c, 64, fig. 10; Fowler, E. 1963. Celtic metalwork of the fifth and sixth centuries A.D.: a reappraisal, ‘The Archaeological Journal’ 120, 119-20; Henry, F. 1965b. On some early Christian objects in the Ulster Museum, ‘Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland’ 95, 58-63, fig. 2a; Graham-Campbell, J. 1973-4. The Lough Ravel, Co. Antrim, Brooch and Others of Ninth Century Date, ‘Ulster Journal of Archaeology’, 55; Stevenson, R.B.K. 1974. The Hunterson brooch and its significance, ‘Medieval Archaeology’ 18, 35, n. 57; Lane, A.M. 1984. Some Pictish problems at Dunadd in J.G.P. Friell and W.G. Watson (eds), ‘Pictish Studies, BAR, BS 125, Oxford, 53-4.

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  • Bibliography

    • Lane & Campbell 2000 bibliographic details
    • Henry 1965 bibliographic details
    • Youngs 1989a 182 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G41/dc16/sC

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:
    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

    1898

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1898,0618.8

Leaded bronze penannular brooch. Plain hoop of variable cross-section, oval to subrectangular, with a slightly broader panel at the top framing four round collared recesses with inner rings and dots. The terminals are large bird heads dominated by cabochon amber eyes with an outer circle. The recesses on the hoop panel were probably settings for more amber or glass. Amber in the birds' eyes is now partly opaque, and it is not certain whether reflective foil backings were used. The thick beaks curve slightly and have an inner line in a recessed panel. The brooch back is plain. The pin has a simple hook wrapped around the hoop and broadens into a lentoid panel at the head and another halfway down the shank. The top panel has an inner frame of cast lines; the bottom is apparently textured in some way but the surface is now worn. The pin is markedly dished where it crosses the hoop.

Leaded bronze penannular brooch. Plain hoop of variable cross-section, oval to subrectangular, with a slightly broader panel at the top framing four round collared recesses with inner rings and dots. The terminals are large bird heads dominated by cabochon amber eyes with an outer circle. The recesses on the hoop panel were probably settings for more amber or glass. Amber in the birds' eyes is now partly opaque, and it is not certain whether reflective foil backings were used. The thick beaks curve slightly and have an inner line in a recessed panel. The brooch back is plain. The pin has a simple hook wrapped around the hoop and broadens into a lentoid panel at the head and another halfway down the shank. The top panel has an inner frame of cast lines; the bottom is apparently textured in some way but the surface is now worn. The pin is markedly dished where it crosses the hoop.

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Object reference number: MCS12384

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