Drawing of a Trefoil Brooch

Drawing of a trefoil brooch

A drwaing of a copper alloy trefoil brooch of a type that would have been common in the Danelaw. Trefoil brooches were characteristically Scandinavian women’s wear. However, many examples found in the East Midlands were probably made in the Danelaw, and may have been copies of Scandinavian styles, instead of being imported from Scandinavia.

Scandinavian brooches came in a variety of sizes and shapes which included disc, trefoil, lozenge, equal-armed, and oval shapes. The different brooch types served a variety of functions in Scandinavian female dress with oval brooches typically being used as shoulder clasps for apron-type dresses and the rest being used to secure an outer garment to an inner shift. Anglo-Saxon brooches do not match this diversity of form with large disc brooches being typical of ninth century dress styles with smaller ones becoming more popular in the later ninth and tenth centuries. However, since disc brooches were used by both Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian women they are distinguished by their morphology. Scandinavian brooches were typically domed with a hollow back while Anglo-Saxon brooches were usually flat. Moreover, Anglo-Saxon brooches were worn singly without accompanying accessories.

Object Type



circa 850 — 950

Ascribed Culture



Viking Designs


brooch, copper_alloy, Danelaw, drawing, jewellery, Lincolnshire, Portable_Antiquities_Scheme, trefoil, women

Further information


Drawn by Adam Parsons of Blueaxe Reproductions


Portable Antiquities Scheme

Kershaw, Jane F. Viking identities: Scandinavian jewellery in England. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 20-25.