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from Westness, Rousay, Orkney

Postcard of Brooches.
© National Museums Scotland


These two brass oval brooches were found in a wealthy Norse woman's burial at Westness on Rousay in Orkney. She died in childbirth and was buried with a range of expensive objects between 850 and 900.

This picture shows the sides of the brooches. They were cast in high relief, and decorated on all panels. Raised knobs gave the object even more of a three-dimensional profile.

Oval brooches were formerly known as tortoise brooches, due to the shape of the shells. They were made using the lost sophisticated wax method, where a model was made in wax and a clay mould was formed around this.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-000-099-761-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0036: Kiloran Bay Viking Burial (multimedia essay)
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.IL 729
Date: Between 850 and 900
Material: Bronze; tortoise brooches; type Rygh 649; a, with iron pin inside; b, lacking pin, c, part of iron pin from b, with remains of two cloth loops
Dimensions: 4.30" x 2.15"
What: Brooch
Where: Scotland, Orkney, Rousay, Westness
Description: Pair of bronze tortoise brooches, one with iron pin inside, the other lacking pin, with pin fragment with remains of two cloth loops, from Westness, Orkney
  • Graham-Campbell, James and Batey, Colleen E. Vikings in Scotland. An Archaeological Survey. Edinburgh: University Press, 1998, p 136. 
  • Ritchie, Anna. Viking Scotland London: B.T. Batsford Ltd/Historic Scotland, 1993, p 50.
    Find in NLS: Title, Author, Title+Author or British Library: Title, Author, Title+Author
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