Diameter: 7.800 cm
Gift of the Friends of the British Museum
Prehistory and Europe
Silver disc brooch
Viking, 10th century
Probably found on the island of Gotland, Sweden
A puzzling design
This silver disc brooch is elaborately decorated with Borre Style interlace and animal masks. Figures of four backward-biting animals are riveted around the high central boss, itself formed of eight long-necked animal heads. Round the edge of the brooch are two squatting, human figures grasping what appear to be their own forked beards, alternating with animal heads holding a bar between forepaws and mouth. The significance of this design is uncertain although disc brooches with figures in this style are found mainly in central Sweden. The nicked edges of the design imitate beaded wire.
On the back of the
brooch are impressions of textile used in the
Circular brooches were usually worn singly by women on Gotland, to fasten an outer garment such as a cloak. In this case the lug for a chain suggests the brooch could have been linked to another item, possibly of jewellery.
J. Graham-Campbell, Viking artefacts: a select cat (London, The British Museum Press, 1980)