Friday, February 5, 2010

1400 Year-Old Brooch Found in North Kerry

'A 1,400-YEAR-OLD brooch dating from the early Christian period has been discovered in the remnants of a turf fire in a range in north Kerry' writes ANNE LUCEY in yesterdays Irish Times.

It is believed the brooch fastened the cloak of a clergyman and was dropped, probably on a forest road which later became bog. It ended up in a sod of turf in the range of Sheila and Pat Joe Edgeworth at Martara, Ballylongford, near the Shannon estuary. Lands alongside the Shannon are chequered with early Christian ruins and holy wells.

The bronze brooch was found shortly before Christmas by Ms Edgeworth when she was cleaning out her range.The turf had been cut by machine and drawn from the Edgeworths’ bog at nearby Tullahennel last summer.The find has been hailed by archaeologists as most exciting.

Known by archaeologists as a “zoomorphic penannular brooch”, it is a type that was developed in Ireland in the sixth and seventh centuries following earlier examples from Roman Britain. The Tullahennel brooch is “particularly interesting” because it is decorated on its terminals with two crosses, meaning that at the very least its original owner was a Christian, and most likely a member of the clergy, said Griffin Murray, collections officer at Kerry County Museum.

“Stylistically the brooch can be dated to around AD 600. It is a rare example of a piece of jewellery belonging to one of the earliest Christians in Ireland, only a generation after St Brendan. For that reason, it is a very exciting find,” Mr Murray said.

The brooch is the latest in a number of early finds – including a hoard of Viking silver – which have been acquired under the National Monuments Act by the Kerry Museum in Tralee. Undergoing conservation, it is due to go on permanent exhibition in the next couple of months. Click Here to read the full article

One of the best known penannular brooches ever found in Ireland is the Tara Brooch, circa 700AD (see below).