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Trefoil brooch


Length: 7.400 cm

Gift of Sir A.W. Franks

Britain, Europe and Prehistory

    Trefoil brooch

    Viking, 10th century AD
    Found at Roskilde, Denmark

    Female costume jewellery

    This trefoil (three-lobed) brooch is made of copper alloy. Each arm is decorated in Borre Style with a spreadeagled animal seen from above, its head in low, sunken relief facing in to the centre. A perforated lug on the back is for the attachment of a chain.

    Brooches of this type were used to fasten a cloak or shawl on the breast. The form is modelled on Carolingian trefoil fittings from sword-belts of the ninth century, presumably either seized by the Vikings in raids on the Continent, or perhaps obtained peacefully through trade or the exchange of gifts. The decoration, however, uses animal rather than plant motifs, a style with which the Vikings were familiar. Simpler versions appear to have been mass-produced.

    R.A. Smith, A guide to the Anglo-Saxon and (London, British Museum, 1923)