About things – part One

Small plain oval brooch from Kvarnbo (ÅM 768:1)

Small plain oval brooch from Kvarnbo (ÅM 768:1). Photo used with the courtesy of the Museum of Åland, Ålands Landskapsregering

The very first find unearthed during the metal-detector survey at Kvarnbo verifying the Late Iron Age (aristocratic) presence in the field north of the church of Saltvik was a domed oblong brooch. It is 34 mm long, has a plain surface and a hole of 2.6 mm in diameter in the opposite end of the pin fastening lug; it is cast in copper alloy.

Generally, when domed oblong brooches or oval brooches are mentioned, large oval brooches from Viking Age with rich ornamentation cross the mind as these are so typical for our understanding of the clothing style of that time. Such large oval brooches were mass-produced following a standard design, and a characteristic accessory of Viking Age female apron dress in Scandinavia. However, one of the very first, early types of the domed oblong brooches in Scandinavia was inconspicuous and small, just up to 40 mm in length. Most of these early brooches were unadorned, although, the decoration of simple lines and/or grooves occurs as well. Such brooches, rarely found in matched pairs, were mainly in use during the period of 700-750 AD. On Åland, before the discovery of the oval brooch at Kvarnbo, 4 small plain oval brooches have been found, all from graves: from Höckböle in Geta, Ödkarby in Saltvik (2 different) and Kulla in Finström. One of these brooches is decorated with an edge line while all the others are unadorned. Although small plain surface oval brooches are simple and widely distributed all over Scandinavia, these were not serial produced or mass-made adornments – these represent the intentional manufacture of unique jewelry. They also reflect regional fashion being clearly favored in the Lake Mälaren area. And, according to the archaeological evidence available so far, the production sites for such brooches should be pinpointed to the same, Lake Mälaren area as well. For example, on Helgö, half a top-side mould for a small plain brooch without lines or grooves – i.e. for the type of brooch also found at Kvarnbo – has been documented.

My information regarding the domed oblong brooches was derived from the extensive work of Martin Rundkvist. Thus, for more information, see Rundkvist, M. 2010. Domed oblong brooches of Vendel Period Scandinavia. Ørsnes types N & O and similar brooches, including transitional types surviving into the Early Viking Period. In: B. Hårdh (ed.). Uppåkrastudier 11. Lund, 127-200. Also readily available online: http://www.academia.edu/217395/Domed_oblong_brooches_of_Vendel_Period_Scandina_via


One thought on “About things – part One

  1. Pingback: About things – part Three | The hall at the crossroads of Baltic waterways

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