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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. The hoard was buried between 950 and 970.

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

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: 000-100-043-554-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 7
Date: Deposited between 950 and 970
Material: With thistle-like head
What: Brooch, penannular
Where: Scotland, Orkney, Sandwick, Skaill
Description: Penannular brooch with thistle-like head, 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, 111. 
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