Collection online

brooch / amulet

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Gilt copper alloy cross brooch: equal-armed; cast, chip-carved, Anglo-Carolingian style animal in profile in each arm; central, flat, oval black glass setting inscribed in two lines of early Arabic script, `sha'a allah', or 'tubna lillah' (or `bismillah'?); silver domed-head pseudo-rivet in a lobe at the inner and outer corners of each arm.


  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 8thC-9thC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 12 millimetres (setting)
    • Width: 11 millimetres (setting)
    • Height: 44 millimetres
    • Width: 45 millimetres
    • Depth: 9 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

        sha['a] [a]llah (or `bismillah'?) or tubna lilllah
      • Inscription Translation

        As God wills (or In the name of Allah?) or We have repented to God
  • Curator's comments

    The setting was removed in Dec 1997 to examine its back, which is unpolished and plain, with no trace of an inscription; the edges are slightly bevelled making a very close fit, though whether damage to the collet is to accommodate the setting, or an indication that it has been roughly prised out in the past, is unclear. The script should not be called "Kufic" (BMA).Comment from Kidd, Haith & Ager ‘Summary Catalogue’ (draft MS)

    "said to have been found in or near Ballycottin Bog, Youghal, County Cork, Republic of Ireland" (MS letter from donor, 24.8.1903). Given by Philip T. Gardner.

    SMITH R.A. 1923. A Guide to the Anglo-Saxon and Foreign Teutonic Antiquities in the Department of British and Mediaeval Antiquities. London, p. 142
    MAHR A. 1932. Christian Art in Ancient Ireland I. Dublin, p. X, pl. 35:1
    RAFTERY J. (ed) 1941. Christian Art in Ancient Ireland, II. Dublin, pp. 143-4
    WILSON D.M. 1958. An Early Carolingian Finger-Ring, British Museum Quarterly XXI for 1957-59, no. 3, London, p. 82
    WILSON D.M. 1960. The Fejø Cup, Acta Archaeologica XXXI, Copenhagen, pp. 161-2, 173, fig. 16
    STEIN F. 1967. Adelsgräber des achten Jahrhunderts in Deutschland, 2 vols, Germanische Denkmäler der Völkerwanderungszeit, Römisch-Germanische Kommission des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts zu Frankfurt am Main Ser A, IX. Berlin , vol. I, p. 97
    YPEY J. 1986. Een paar 'gouden' fibulae 'uit de Rijn', Antiek 20, no. 9, Zwolle, pp. 188 note 51, 189, figs. 10 no. 37, map fig. 11:37
    SAFADI Y. H. 1978. Islamic Calligraphy. London, p. 129 no. 143
    BAKKA E. 1983. Westeuropäische und nordische Tierornamentik des achten Jahrhunderts in überregionalem Stil III, Studien zur Sachsenforschung 4, Veröffentlichungen der urgeschichtlichen Sammlungen des Landesmuseums zu Hannover 28, Hildesheim, p. 55 no. 37, map fig. 7:37V. Porter and B. Ager, “Islamic amuletic seals: the case of the Carolingian cross brooch from Ballycottin”, Res Orientales, 12, 1999, pp. 211-218.


  • Bibliography

    • Marzinzik 2013 109 bibliographic details
    • Porter 2011 232 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G41/dc3/sC

  • Exhibition history

    2000 12 Apr-13 Aug, BM, Room 69a, Paid in Burnt Silver

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number



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Object reference number: MCS14057

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