Mould for making brooches

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Found at Brough of Birsay, Orkney

Postcard of Mould for making brooches.
© National Museums Scotland

Mould for making brooches

This is one half of a two-piece clay mould for the casting of a Pictish penannular brooch. Both halves were excavated at the Brough of Birsay in Orkney. The mould dates from between 700 and 800.

This half is for the back of the mould. It carries a plain pattern for the back of the brooch and negative keying. The brooch cast in this mould would have had animal symbols on its terminals, a typical feature of Pictish brooches of this period.

Early metalsmiths developed sophisticated casting techniques as time went on. Complex moulds of clay and stone produced intricate three dimensional objects. Here, the two-piece mould was closed, and molten metal poured into the channel at the top.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-040-612-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.HB 294
Date: Between 700 and 800
Material: Clay; front half of two piece mould; zoomorphic terminals with cusps at junction to hoop; oval cartouche with circular setting at top of hoop; broken in three parts and repaired
Dimensions: 52 mm x 45 mm
What: Mould
Where: Scotland, Orkney, Brough of Birsay
Description: Front half of a two piece clay mould for a penannular brooch, from Birsay, Orkney
  • Youngs, Susan (ed). 'The Work of Angels'. Masterpieces of Celtic metalwork, 6th-9th centuries AD. London: British Museums Publications Ltd, 1989, p 189. 
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