Penannular brooch of silver gilt

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found on St Ninian's Isle, Dunrossness, Shetland

Postcard of Penannular brooch of silver gilt.
© National Museums Scotland

Penannular brooch of silver gilt

This silver gilt penannular brooch was found in a hoard containing silver objects and part of a porpoise's jaw, buried on St Ninian's Isle at Dunrossness in Shetland sometime between 750 and 825. The hoard probably belonged to a Pictish chief.

The brooch has terminals in the shape of beasts. The beasts, hoop panel and pin are decorated with interlace in a chip-carved style. Originally the brooch had three studs, two for the beasts' eyes and one in the hoop panel. All are missing.

Pictish metalwork of the 8th and 9th centuries is characterised by distinctive forms and ornaments, and a lavish use of silver. Animals are popular motifs, and portrayed in a variety of ways. Deeply carved interlace patterns often fill panels.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-036-444-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 295
Date: 8th century
Buried between 750 and 825
Material: Silver gilt; zoomorphic terminals of facing animal heads covered with interlace, with bared teeth and insets for eyes; hoop panel of interlace with central inset and four tiny projecting discs; pin with all over interlace and plain central boss on expande
Dimensions: 2.80" D
What: Brooch, penannular
Where: Scotland, Shetland, St Ninian's Isle
Description: Penannular brooch of silver-gilt with zoomorphic terminals of facing animal heads with bared teeth, from St Ninian's Isle, Pictish, 8th century
  • Calder, Jenni. The wealth of a nation. Edinburgh: National Museums of Scotland and Glasgow: Richard Drew Publishing, 1989, p 158. 
  • Small, A., Thomas, C., & Wilson, D. M. St. Ninian's Isle and its Treasure. London: Oxford University Press,1973 
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