Bone pin

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From Jarlshof, Shetland

Postcard of Bone pin.
© National Museums Scotland

Bone pin

This bone pin was found at Jarlshof in Shetland. It was used as a dress pin or hairpin, sometime between 600 and 1000, 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. The pinhead is in the shape of a double cross and is decorated with small dots.

Bone pins are common finds from Pictish and Viking sites in Scotland. They were used to fasten clothing or as hair ornaments. They occur in a range of styles, some quite elaborate, and clearly meant to display social status.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-042-366-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 128
Date: Between 600 and 1000
Material: Bone; double cruciform head; perforated dots on each face
What: Pin
Where: Scotland, Shetland, Sumburgh, Jarlshof
Description: Cross-headed bone pin from Jarlshof, Shetland
  • Hamilton, J.R.C. Excavations at Jarlshof, Shetland. Edinburgh: Ministry of Works, Archaeological Reports 1, 1956, p 292, 4. 
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