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Combs from Brough of Birsay, Orkney

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Combs from Brough of Birsay, Orkney
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These antler combs were found at the Brough of Birsay in Orkney. They are Pictish types of combs, but some date from the times of the earliest Viking settlers, suggesting that Pictish craftsmen may have continued to make such combs locally.

The combs were made by cutting small plates of antler into teeth, and then riveting these between two connecting plates in the middle. All the combs preserve iron rivets, and most are decorated. All are fragmentary to some degree, though their basic shapes are clear.

One distinctive type of Pictish comb is short with a high back, sometimes with openwork decoration. Double-sided combs often have teeth which become shorter towards the ends, and they are often richly decorated. The source of the antler for these combs is unknown.

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