Trefoil Brooch (LEIC-A43E83)

A copper alloy trefoil brooch in West Barkwith, Lincoolnshire

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. This example was found near Lincoln.

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

Brooch

Date

circa 850 — 950

Ascribed Culture

Original/Reproduction

Original

Material

Collection

Viking Objects

Current Location

Private Ownership

Keywords

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

Further information

You can see the original at Private Ownership.

Acknowledgements

(c) Leicestershire County Council, CC BY-SA 4.0

References

Portable Antiquities Scheme

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