Silver gilt and garnet brooch with a runic inscription

Merovingian (South German type), 6th century AD
Sometimes (dubiously) said to be from Kent, England

The inscription is lightly scratched in runes on the back of the brooch and rather haphazardly written, making it difficult to read all of the letters satisfactorily. However, it probably includes a personal name.

The Germanic custom of cutting short inscriptions on the backs of brooches was quite widespread. The angular forms of the letters suggest that they were meant mainly for cutting on wood, in which case many longer messages may not have survived. In fact a number of runic letters and poems written on wood are known from the later Viking and medieval periods in Scandinavia (between around the ninth to fourteenth centuries AD), and the early ‘barbarian’ peoples of Europe may also have been more literate than is generally thought.

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Silver gilt and garnet brooch with a runic inscription

  • Reverse



More information


S.C. Hawkes and R.I. Page, 'Swords and runes in south-east England', The Antiquaries Journal-3, 47 (1967), pp. 1-26

J. Hines, 'Postscript: the Bateman collection Brooch' in Ergänzungsbände zum Reallexiko, 51 (Berlin, 2006), pp. 200-202

R.W.V. Elliott, Runes, an introduction (Manchester University Press, 1989)


Length: 7.400 cm

Museum number

Britain, Europe and Prehistory


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