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Viking Trefoil Brooch

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Item Name Viking Trefoil Brooch
Period 10th century
Culture Viking
Discovery Site Ketilsstadhr
Country Nordhur-Múlasysla, Iceland
Dating 900-1000AD

Michèle Hayeur-Smith, Draupnir's Sweat and Mardöll's Tears: An Archaeology of Jewellery, Gender and Identity in Viking Age Iceland. BAR: Oxford 2004.

Small bronze trefoil brooch. This class of ornament was inspired by three-lobed baldric mounts looted from the Frankish Kingdoms, which were quickly adapted in to a standard item of female attire by addition of a pin! Accordingly the decoration on this example has Carolingian-inspired acanthus foliage. Trefoils are usually over the centre of the chest when found in burials, where they could fasten a shawl or coat. Others, particularly the small ones like this, more probably served as 'keepers' to which sewing tools, or other ornaments, were attached - via a small loop on the rear of the bottom lobe. The woman buried with this brooch also owned a pair of oval 'tortoise' brooches; a string of glass beads; whetstones; and a drop spindle.

Size: 3.8cm by 3.2cm
Weight: 14g


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