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found at Skaill, Sandwick, Orkney

Postcard of Brooch.
© National Museums Scotland


This large silver brooch was found at Skaill at Sandwick in Orkney, and is part of the largest Viking Age silver hoard found in Scotland. It was clearly meant for ostentatious display of wealth and status. This picture shows a detail of the terminals.

The terminals are decorated on this side with a brambling pattern, which has led to this variant of the ball-type brooch being termed a thistle brooch. The collars are decorated with incised bands of geometric and interlaced ribbon patterns.

The Skaill hoard is a huge collection of silver. It weighed over 8 kilograms, equivalent in size to the largest hoards found in Scandinavia. The silver was probably the accumulated wealth of a Norse leader in the Scandinavian colony of Orkney.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-043-550-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  X.IL 3
Date: Deposited between 950 and 970
Material: Silver; large; extremities and head of pin shaped like thistle; engraved pattern on one side
Dimensions: 5.50" - 8.00" D
What: Brooch, penannular
Where: Scotland, Orkney, Sandwick, Skaill
Description: Viking silver penannular ring brooch with thistle-shaped extremities and pinhead and an engraved pattern on one side, from Skaill
  • Graham-Campbell, James. The Viking-age gold and silver of Scotland (AD 850-1100). Edinburgh: National Museums of Scotland, 1995, pp. 34-48, 109-110. 
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