- Museum number
- Object: Lochbuie Brooch
Lochbuie brooch; silver; set with crystals and pearls; reverse inscribed.
- Production date
- 1600 (circa)
Diameter: 12.20 centimetres
Weight: 480 grammes
Depth: 7.15 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- See note by Catherine Gillies on the closely-related Brooch of Lorn on object file. That is dated on stylistic grounds to late 16th C but incorporating earlier rock crystal charmstones in which there was revived interest in the 16th C. The Lorn brooch probably by same hand as this one. More on charmstones and related brooches in Jewellery in Scotland ex .cat., a number of them in NMS with clan histories. Third brooch is the Ugadale Brooch which is also privately owned. Another is Ballochyle Brooch in NMS, c1600 described as a symbol of authority and prestige, and has a confused talismanic motto on it and incorporating charmstone of rock crystal.For the latter see Dalgleish and Fotheringham, Silver made in Scotland, NMS 2008, no. 3.13.
George Dalgleish at NMS notes that the inscription on this brooch refers to the marriage of Murdoch Maclean and Anna Campbell on 13 november 1705. Anna's family had extensive lands in Islay and Mull. They had no son. Their 3rd daughter Isabella married John Scrogie after 1730, probably at the date of the inscription. The Campbell/Maclean connection was a reflection of the importance of the Clan Campbell in Mull.Four of the five reliquary brooches therefore have links with the Campbells.
A replica of this brooch was sold at Sotheby's London 26.8.1986 lot 236, made by Kirkwoods in Edinburgh, copied "from the original in the BM for Murdoch Maclaine of Lochbuie...1885". The replica in the NMS went to them in 1898 and may have been made at the same time?
Central section unscrews to form a hollow chamber, perhaps a reliquary?
Text from the 1855 Bernal Sale Catalogue (p. 284, ill.) reads "3512 AM (sic) ANCIENT GAELIC BROTCHE (sic), of silver, of circular form, scalloped and surrounded by small upright obelisks each set with a pearl at top: in the centre is a round crystalline ball, considered a magical gem; the top may be taken off, showing a hollow, originally for reliques (sic). This interesting work was the property of Macleane of Lockbuy, in the Isle of Mull, and is said to be made of silver found on the estate. An interesting work of the time of Queen Elizabeth. Mentioned in Pennant's Tour ..."
Pennant's Tour, 1772/1774, vol. 2, p. 14: CURIOUS BROTCHE (sic). ... The annexed plate exhibits one probably not inferior in magnificence [to Robert Bruce's brooch]. It had been the property of Macleane, of Loch-buy, in the isle of Mull, and is said to be made of silver found on the estate. The workmanship is elegant, and seems to be of the time of Queen Elizabeth. It is about five inches diameter at the bottom. Round the upper margin is a low upright rim; wiithin that are ten obeliscs, about an inch and a quarter high, prettily studded, and the top of each ornamented with a river pearl. These surround a second rim; from that rises a neat case, whose sides project into ten demi-rounders, all neatly studded. In the center is a round crystalline ball, a magical gem, such as described in the tour of 1769. This case may be taken off; has a considerable hollow, in which might have been kept amulets or reliques; which, with the assistance of the powerful stone, must needs prove an infallible preservative against all harms. [ill.front and back - note that the back is shown without inscription and the text refers only to the reign of Queen Elizabeth, see also footnote: This fine ornament is in the possession of the Rev Mr Lort, late Greek Professor at Cambridge, who favored me with the loan of it.]
Papers in the NRS GD174 [Maclaine of Lochbuie] suggest that Isabella, wife of John Scrogie, was still alive in 1749, see Dobson, 2005, Scottish Highlanders on the Eve of the Great Migration, 1725-1775: The People of Argyll, p. 95. It is possible that the brooch was sold in the period after the 1745 Jacobite uprising. There is, however, no evidence for this claim at present.
A close reading of the inscription does not give clarity as to whether it was the silver ore which was handed down the female line, or the brooch. The line 'made by a tinker' relates grammatically to the ore, and may refer to its refining. It may also, however, be intended to mean the facture of the brooch. The brooch form relates to medieval turretted brooches, but elements of the workmanship resemble other early post-medieval artefacts such as dress hooks and ball-headed pins.
See Rhona Ramsay, Who Made the Turreted Brooches of Argyll? Nacken and Elite Silver Craftwork. The Scottish Historical Review, Volume 100 Issue 3, Page 455-468, ISSN 0036-9241 Available Online Dec 2021
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2012 19 Jul-25 Nov, London, BM Shakespeare: Staging the World
2010 11 May-14 Aug, London, British Museum (G90), 'Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria'
2002 28 Jun-2003 5 Jan, USA, Chicago, Field Museum of Natural History, Pearls
2001 13 Oct-2002 14 Apr, USA, New York, American Museum of Natural History, Pearls
1991 08 Aug-03 Nov, Scotland, Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland, The Art of Jewellery in Scotland.
1889/90 London, Tudor Exhibition no.93
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: BL.3512 (Bernal Collection)