Bone pin

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From Jarlshof, Shetland

Postcard of Bone pin.
© National Museums Scotland

Bone pin

This bone pin was found at the Viking settlement site of Jarlshof in Shetland. It was used as a dress pin or hairpin, sometime between 850 and 1100, providing evidence of the conversion of the inhabitants to Christianity.

The pin is one of several found at Jarlshof carved with a cross on its head. The pinhead is flat, but the shaft is circular in cross-section. It is polished smooth.

Bone pins are common finds from Viking settlements in Britain and Scandinavia, reflecting their common use as dress pins to fasten clothing together or as hairpins. They come in a range of sizes and styles, some quite elaborate.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-042-363-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.HSA 125
Date: Between 850 and 1100
Material: Bone; cross head
What: Pin
Where: Scotland, Shetland, Sumburgh, Jarlshof
Description: Cross-headed bone pin from Jarlshof
  • Hamilton, J.R.C. Excavations at Jarlshof, Shetland. Edinburgh: Ministry of Works, Archaeological Reports 1, 1956, p 151. 
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