Penannular brooch of silver gilt

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found on St Ninian's Isle, Dunrossness, Shetland

Postcard of Penannular brooch of silver gilt.
© National Museums Scotland

Penannular brooch of silver gilt

This silver gilt penannular brooch was found in a hoard containing silver objects and part of a porpoise's jaw, buried on St Ninian's Isle at Dunrossness in Shetland sometime between 750 and 825. The hoard probably belonged to a Pictish chief.

The brooch has square terminals. The terminals, hoop panel and pin are decorated with deeply carved interlace in a chip-carved-style technique. The brooch is very worn and has lost much of its gilding.

The metalwork found in the St Ninian's Isle treasure shows the skill and accomplishment of Pictish craftsmen. Pictish brooches often have distinctive animal ornament. The use of simple oval pinheads contrasts with contemporary Irish penannular brooches.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-036-435-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.FC 286
Date: 8th century
Buried between 750 and 825
Material: Silver gilt; square terminals with birds' heads facing three corners, inset in fourth, all linked by ribs to central blue glass inset, interlace between; curved panel in centre of hoop with interlace and central inset; pin with interlace on upper half and
Dimensions: 2.90" max D
What: Brooch, penannular
Where: Scotland, Shetland, St Ninian's Isle
Description: Penannular brooch of silver-gilt with birds' heads and a blue glass inset, from St Ninian's Isle, Pictish, 8th century
  • Calder, Jenni. The wealth of a nation. Edinburgh: National Museums of Scotland and Glasgow: Richard Drew Publishing, 1989, p 158. 
  • Small, A., Thomas, C., & Wilson, D. M. St. Ninian's Isle and its Treasure. London: Oxford University Press,1973 
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