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Bone pin


Length: 16.900 cm

M&ME 1893,6-18,72

Britain, Europe and Prehistory

    Bone pin

    Viking, 11th century AD
    From London, England

    Fine decoration on an every-day item

    This pin was recovered from the River Thames in 1837 and entered the collection of the pioneering Derbyshire archaeologist Thomas Bateman. The pin would have fastened a cloak at the right shoulder leaving the arm to move freely. To secure the pin firmly, a cord or leather thong was tied through the hole in the head and then wound round the pin tip in a figure of eight.

    The pin is made from a pig bone and has been heavily polished by use. The design of step-pattern, triangles and interwoven plant-like tendrils incised on the head is in Ringerike style, ornament typical of the late Viking period in Britain and Ireland, as well as in Scandinavia.

    Dress pins of this sort are frequently found in settlements such as York, Trondheim and Hedeby but are usually less elaborate. They were simple to make using bone from butchered animals and were worn as practical dress fasteners by all classes of society.

    E. Roesdahl and D.M. Wilson (eds), From Viking to crusader: the S (Sweden, Bohusläningens Boktryckeri, 1992)

    J. Graham-Campbell, Viking artefacts: a select cat (London, The British Museum Press, 1980)