• Jeff King

Tara Brooch

The Tara brooch is one of the most significant finds from the “Golden Age” of Celtic history. Comprised of gold, silver, and copper, it forms a complete circle.. The Early Medieval Age of Celtic history, brooches bore significance as demonstrations of status and wealth most notably worn by royalty and nobility. Clergy were also known to wear Celtic brooches. Christian symbolism has been noted in their design although the Celtic brooch pre-dates Christianity. The Tara brooch is displayed in Dublin’s National Museum of Ireland.


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The Celtic Brooch

Significance and Uses


During the Iron Age and Roman period, brooches began as the primary means of fastening a shawl closed to protect from the harsh Irish wind and rain. As they were utilitarian in nature, they were generally made of iron or copper. They were used first by men to attach at the shoulder and later by women to attach at the breast.


In the Early Medieval Age of Celtic history, brooches bore significance as demonstrations of status and wealth most notably worn by royalty and nobility. They became much more intricate and were made of precious metals like gold, silver, and copper. Clergy were also known to wear Celtic brooches. Christian symbolism has been noted in their design although the Celtic brooch pre-dates Christianity.


Design


The Celtic Brooch is also called a pennanular or pseudo-pennanular brooch. Pennanular refers to brooches which form an incomplete circle. Pseudo-pennanular brooches refer to those forming a complete circle.


The 8th Century Tara brooch is considered “The Book of Kells” of Celtic jewelry given that it is representative of the artistic and historic tradition of Celtic metalwork.


The Tara brooch is one of the most significant finds from the “Golden Age” of Celtic history. The brooch is comprised of gold, silver, and copper. It forms a complete circle although considered a pseudo-pennunular brooch due to its appearance as a semi- or broken circle. The design is intricate and elaborate with interlace evident on the front and back of the brooch with chip carving, embossment, filigree, and granulation. The metal is complete with three-dimensional animal heads and inlays of amber and colored glass adornments.


Sources & Bibliography


National Museum of Ireland. The Tara Brooch.


Patrick, Neil. Dating from the early medieval period, the Londesborough Brooch is a Celtic pseudo-penannular brooch from Ireland, elaborate example of a dress fastener The Vintage News. 2016-07-27

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