Silver ring brooch

Irish, 9th century AD
From Tara, County Meath, Ireland

Weighted to give a false impression of value

This handsome brooch is said to have come from the ancient royal site of Tara, County Meath, in Ireland. But all we know for certain is that came into the collection of Thomas Bateman, the pioneering Derbyshire archaeologist, in the nineteenth century.

The brooch was cast in silver before the addition of gilding and amber and there may once have been panels of gold filigree work in the three empty lozenges. There is no catch plate so in use the brooch works as a pin with a huge disc head. The form is typical of Irish jewellery in the eighth and ninth centuries.

The fine, repetitive interlace and style of the little animals in the central panels suggest a date in the ninth century, a period when Viking activity made silver and Baltic amber more abundant. Empty recesses on the back may have been filled with lead to falsify the weight (this is seen also on the great Londesborough brooch). The style shows the influence of contemporary continental animal art.

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More information


S.M. Youngs (ed.), The work of angels: masterpiec (London, The British Museum Press, 1989)

R.A. Smith, 'Irish brooches of five centuries', Archaeologia-4, 65 (1914)


Diameter: 7.600 cm (hoop)
Length: 15.500 cm (pin)

Museum number

M&ME 1893,6-18,29


From the collection of Thomas Bateman


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