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Carved bone pin

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From Kerrera, near Oban, Argyll

Postcard of Carved bone pin.
© National Museums Scotland

Carved bone pin

This bone pin was found on the island of Kerrera near Oban in Argyll. It was used as a dress pin or as a hairpin, sometime between 700 and 900. It is a fine example of an animal-headed Pictish pin.

The pin is 'hipped' (with a swelling part way down the shank, perhaps to stop it slipping). The finely carved animal's head, perhaps a horse, is set at right angles to the shank. It has short ears, an open mouth, and clearly defined teeth.

Bone pins are fairly common finds from Pictish sites, occurring in a range of sizes and decoration. Nevertheless, the same basic head shapes appear at widely distant Pictish sites in the Northern and Western Isles, and even on some Irish sites.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-102-647-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 303
Date: 700 - 900 AD
Between 700 and 900
Material: Bone; finely carved animal head set at right angles to shank; three incised lines encircle the shank at the hip
Dimensions: 100.2 mm L; head 10.7 mm B
What: Pin
Where: Scotland, Argyll, Kerrera
Description: Zoomorphic bone pin from Kerrera, Argyll, Pictish, 700 - 900 AD
  • Curle, C.L. Pictish and Norse finds from the Brough of Birsay 1934-74. Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 1982, p 19. 
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