Gold brooches from the Winchester hoard

Iron Age, about 75-25 BC
From Hampshire, southern England

Rare and expensive Iron Age 'safety pins'

The Winchester hoard comprises two sets of gold jewellery. Each set contained a necklace torc and two identical gold brooches. Brooches were common in the Iron Age, used to hold cloaks and other clothes together. They were usually made of bronze or iron, but almost never from silver or gold. These examples work in exactly the same way as a modern safety pin.

Only two other Iron Age brooches made from gold have ever been found in Britain. One of these was also found in Hampshire, the same area these brooches come from. The other brooch came from Market Rasen in Lincolnshire.

Archaeologists know when the Winchester brooches were made because the shape of Iron Age brooches changed quickly in the last 150 years of the Iron Age. The shape of these four brooches was only in fashion between 75 and 25 BC. At this time it was also fashionable to wear two brooches held across the chest with a chain. Before this time it was more common to wear one brooch on the shoulder.

Only one of the chains that joined these brooches has survived. The gold brooches were found in a ploughed field. Several of the brooches had been bent when a plough hit them.

Find in the collection online

Gold brooches from the Winchester hoard

Brooches 1+2 from the Winchester hoard

  • Brooches 3+4 from the Winchester hoard

    Brooches 3+4 from the Winchester hoard

  • How the jewellery might have been worn (drawing by Karen Hughes)

    How the jewellery might have been worn (drawing by Karen Hughes)

 

More information

Bibliography

Dimensions

Length: 17.000 cm (chain)
Weight: 23.600 g
Length: 17.000 cm (chain)
Weight: 23.600 g
Length: 17.000 cm (chain)
Weight: 23.600 g

Museum number

P&EE 2001 9-1 3, 4, 7 (brooches and chain);P&EE 2001 9-1 5, 6 (other brooches)

BCB55821;BCB55822;BCB55823;BCB55824;BCB55825

Location

Find in the collection online



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