About things – part Two

Bird-of-prey brooch from Kvarnbo. Photo used with the courtesy of the Museum of Åland

Bird-of-prey brooch from Kvarnbo (ÅM 768:4). Photo used with the courtesy of the Museum of Åland, Ålands Landskapsregering

In terms of chronology, the earliest find unearthed during the metal-detector survey at Kvarnbo was a bird brooch. It is 35.5 mm long and 22 mm high, cast in copper alloy. The crouching bird is in right profile and the brooch is decorated with small punched dots. The feet and heavy coiled claws as well as the shape of the body signal bird of prey. It is not unusual that ravens, with connotations to Odin’s ravens, Huginn and Muninn, are mentioned while bird brooches are discussed; also, eagles are considered. However, in archaeology there is caution about attributing the pictorial images of birds to any particular species, after all, these brooches are artistically moulded.

The bird-of-prey brooch found at Kvarnbo is closely related to a group of brooches and mountings that were quite widely distributed in Scandinavia in the end of the sixth century. According to John Ljungkvist, bird brooch forms similar to that from Kvarnbo date to the period of 560/570-610 AD. The brooch is in so-called Animal Style II and although this bird-of-prey brooch form is not so very ordinary, it is still known from all over the Scandinavia; some have been found also in UK, France and Germany, and one specimen is even documented in Hungary.

Some bird-of-prey brooches from left to right: Gulldynt in Vöra, Finland (from Kivikoski 1947), Lovö, Sweden (from Petre 1984) and a brooch from Gotland with exact findspot unknown, now in London (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=87888&partId=1&place=27444&plaA=27444-3-2&page=2)

Some 6th/7th century bird-of-prey brooches from left to right: Gulldynt in Vöra, Finland (from Kivikoski 1947), Lovö, Sweden (from Petre 1984) and a brooch from Gotland with exact findspot unknown, now in London (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=87888&partId=1&place=27444&plaA=27444-3-2&page=2)

There was also another object with possible connotation to wildlife 🙂 found during the metal detector survey at Kvarnbo – an equal-armed brooch in copper alloy. The main body of this brooch is absent and only one arm has survived, but it is distinctly depicting an animal (or human?) mask.

Equal-armed brooch from Kvarnbo. Photo used with the courtesy of the Museum of Åland

Equal-armed brooch from Kvarnbo (ÅM 768:6). Photo used with the courtesy of the Museum of Åland, Ålands Landskapsregering

Equal-armed brooches were worn from the second half of the 8th century until the 10th century, i.e. these might be called a typical Viking Age jewellery, and although number of such brooches is known from Åland and Finland, as well as from Norway and Southern Scandinavia, these are usually characterized as an eastern Scandinavian brooch type concentrated in the Lake Mälaren area, Småland and Öland.

Equal-armed brooches have very diverse geographical and stylistic profiles and when it comes to classification, there are some published works, but all focus on material from a particular region or site. I have used the typology suggested by Gun-Britt Aagård for equal-armed brooches from Birka, although, some day, I intend to have a look at the other suggested typologies as well 😉 In any case, Aagård’s classification is thorough offering a very good visual and chronological guide for equal-armed brooches, and according to her, the equal-armed brooch from Kvarnbo belongs to Type III A – most common type of equal-armed brooches distinguished by the presence at the end of each arm of an en-face animal or human mask. Unfortunately, I am not sure yet if it is A:1 or A:2 the brooch from Kvarnbo represents… which makes exact dating at this point a bit tricky as Type III A:1 dates to the Late Viking Age and Type III A:2 to the Early Viking Age… Oh, the problems I have 😀

Equal-armed brooches Aagård Type III A (from Aagård 1984)

Equal-armed brooches Aagård Type III A (from Aagård 1984)

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2 thoughts on “About things – part Two

  1. Marijane Osborn

    Hello. I would like to know the specific date your team found the little bird brooch posted in your blog of 24/05/2014. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Kristin Ilves Post author

      Dear Marijane, I found the brooch on May 2, 2014 as the result of the metal-detecting mapping conducted at the site Sa 14.9. The brooch was discovered in the pit nr 17 I dug 🙂 May I ask why you are asking?
      P.S. You are welcome to contact me at kristin_ilves@hotmail.com

      Reply

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