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27 Nov 2021

Roscrea Heritage Society presents the Roscrea Brooch

The Roscrea brooch measures just over 8cm in diameter and 9.5cm in length

Roscrea Heritage Society presents the Roscrea Brooch

The Roscrea Brooch

The Roscrea brooch measures just over 8cm in diameter and 9.5cm in length, and unusually for brooches dating from the period, it is only half a centimetre thick.


It has been fashioned from cast silver and includes a number of intricate decorative details (although still not quite as elaborate as the Tara Brooch).


It features a round, flat pinhead that includes a triangular panel stretching from the top, meeting another curved panel at the bottom.


The pin emerges from a basal animal head, similar in style to the Tara brooch. Each decorative panel is bordered by semi-circles of gold filigree, but the rest of the ring and the pin itself is merely plain silver.


Inside the borders of gold filigree is a second border of interlacing with animal images incorporated throughout. At each corner this pattern is interrupted with a round amber setting. Inside this second border is a final raised gold plate with more Celtic patterned filigree work.

Even the ridge between the two panels is itself a long animal body, while the dividing gap on the curved panel has an added small diamond shaped plate of filigree work. The pin, the tip of which is missing, has also been left plain and simple with just an engraved chevron design.


The back of the plate is bordered with a row of dots and an incised line (unlike other Celtic examples which are adorned with decoration on both sides), with some of the carved animal heads continuing over from the front side.


Considering its large flat head, the use of silver as the main material, the relatively small amount of gold filigree, and the fact that there are large undecorated sections rather than every inch being richly adorned, the Viking influence on this piece is clear.


As well as being one of the first and one of the finest examples of Irish craftsmen using Viking materials and techniques, the Roscrea brooch also proves that there were plenty of advantages to counteract the disadvantages of Viking invasions.


Thankfully, it now rests in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, still in exquisite condition and on display for everyone to admire its distinctive beauty

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