Detail Of Ornament On The Tara Brooch

the ring, of which kind three specimens in the Museum of the Ro>al Irish Academy at Dublin are llustrated, in order to show the way of ornamenting the expansions with one, four, and five raised bosses, having zoomorphic designs on the background (R.I.A. photos, B 163 and B 164). The area of the head of the pin available for decoration is increased by making it into a cylindrical tube.

In the final stage of the development, of the pen-annalar brooch ¡11 Ireland it ceased to be penannular, if we may be permitted to use such an Irish expression. The break in the rng was entirely filled up, although its position can still be traced by the method of arranging the pattern, which survived ir: its old form long after the split had disappeared. The celebrated Tara Brooch, in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy (R.l.A. photo, A 161), affords a striking example of this. The doing away of the break '.n the ring must have entirely defeated the original purpose the brooch was intended to serve, and it would, therefore, appear that these highly decorated brooches were made rather for ceremonial use, than to be of anv practical value as dress-fasteners.

It may be pointed out that all the characteristic modifications of the form of the penannular brooch made by the Celtic artist arose from his desire to provide more space for the ornamental patterns, which were the very salt of his existence.

Dr. Joseph Anderson contrioutes the following note apropos of the long pin :—

" In the Brehon Imws, vol. iii., p. 291, men are exempted from liability to fine for injury from the pin of their brooch (in a crush? or at a fair?) if they have the brooch on their shoulder so as not to project beyond it. Women also are exempt if they have their brooch similarly on their bosom." Vol. iv., p. 323, "a precious brooch worth an ounce [of silver?] is enumerated among1 the customary insignia of a chief."

The Tara Brooch1 was found in 1850 by some children whilst playing on the strand near Drogheda, Co. Meath. It was offered by the mother of the children to a dealer in metals in Drogheda, but he refused to purchase it, after which she took it to a watchmaker -n the town, who gave her a trifle for it. The watchmaker cleaned it up, and subsequently sold it to Messrs. Waterhouse, of Dame Street, Dublin. The Tara Brooch is now in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy. The body of the brooch is made of an alloy of copper and tin called white bronze, and the decorations with which it is encrusted consist of gold filigree in small recessed panels, r.iello, enamel, and settings of amber and glass. The ornament includes interlaced-work, spirals, step-patterns, scrollwork, zoo-morphs, and anthropomorphs. The spiralwork is of the best kind, such as is only found in MSS. like the Book of Kells. The designs on the back of the brooch appear to be chased or cut into the solid metal of the body, and not composed of plaques fixed on with rivets. Attention should be particularly directed to the rows of bi-ds, each biting the leg of the one in front of it, on the back of the brooch. Similar designs occur in the Lindisfarne Gospels - and on a cross-shaft from Aberlady,5 now at Carlowrie Castle, near Kirk-

1 II. O'Neill's Fine Arts of Ancient Ireland, p. 49.

' Publication of the Paueograf>h;cal Soc., anil G. P. Warner's Illu minated Manuscripts ir. the British Museum, 3rd series.

1 Allen and Anderson's Early Christian Monuments of Scotland, p. 428.

Ancient Scotland Ornament


liston, Linlithgowshire, clearly showing Northumbrian influence, as bird-motived ornament of this kind is in no way characteristic of pure Irish work.

There are several beautiful penannular brooches in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, at Edinburgh, most of which are described and illustrated in Dr. T Anderson's Scotland in Early Christian Times series. The finest of these is the Hunterston Brooch,1 which has a Ruric inscription upon it and is decorated with interlaced-work, zoomorphs, and spi-alwork almost equal to that on the Tara Brooch. The Cadboll Brooch2 from Rogart, Sutherlandshire, and a brooch from Pertha are also very beautiful examples.

The best examples of early Irish ornamental leather-work are the satchel of the Book of Armagh4 in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, ar.d the satchel of St. Moedog's reliquary5 in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy. The patterns on the former consist of interlaced-work and zoomorphs, and those on the latter of interlaced-work only. There are also specimens of leather shoes in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy with Celtic ornament upon them.0

There are very few objects of wood or bone now in existence which exhibit Celtic ornament of the Christian period.

1 I>r. J. Anderson's Scotland in Early Christian Times, 2nd ser., p. 2.

4 Rev. J. P. Mahaffy's Book of Trinity College.


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  • Niklas
    How to detail an ornaments?
    8 years ago
  • brittany
    What is an old silver Tara brooch worth?
    8 years ago

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