In the tombs of the Frankish and kindred Teutonic tribes between the 5th and 9th centuries the crossbar of the T becomes a yet more elaborately decorated semicircle, often surrounded by radial knobs and a chased surface. The base of the shaft is flattened out, and is no less ornate (fig. 13). At the beginning of this period the fibula of King Childeric (A.D. 481) has a singularly complicated pin-fastening.

Fig. 7.  Gold fibula from Naples.

Fig. 7. - Gold fibula from Naples.

Fig. 6.  Greek geometric fibula.

Fig. 6. - Greek geometric fibula.

Fig. 5.  Type IV. with turned up catch plate and convoluted bow.

Fig. 5. - Type IV. with turned-up catch-plate and convoluted bow.

Fig. 8.  Early La Tène period. Reflexed terminal ornament.

Fig. 8. - Early La Tène period. Reflexed terminal ornament.

So far we have traced the history of the safety-pin form of brooch. Concurrently with it, other forms of brooch were developed in which the safety-pin principle is either absent or effectually disguised. One such form is that of the circular medallion brooch. It is found in Etruscan deposits of a fully developed style, and is commonly represented in Greek and Roman sculptures as a stud to fasten the cloak on the shoulder. In the Roman provinces the circular brooches are very numerous, and are frequently decorated with inlaid stone, paste or enamel. Another kind of brooch, also known from early times, is in the form of an animal. In the early types the animal is a decorative appendage, but in later examples it forms the body of the brooch, to which a pin like the modern brooch-pin is attached underneath. Both of these shapes, namely the medallion and the animal form, are found in Frankish cemeteries, together with the later variations of the T-shaped brooch described above. Such brooches were made in gold, silver or bronze, adorned with precious stones, filigree work, or enamel; but whatever the richness of the material, the pin was nearly always of iron.

The Scandinavian or northern group of T-shaped brooches are in their early forms indistinguishable from those of the Frankish tombs, but as time went on they became more massive, and richly decorated with intricate devices (perhaps brought in by Irish missionary influence), into which animal forms were introduced. The period covered is from the 5th to the 8th centuries.

Fig. 9.  Fibula of the La Tène period.

Fig. 9, a-d. - Fibula of the La Tène period, showing the development of the reflexed terminal, and the bilateral spring.

Fig. 11.  Fibula with niello work.

Fig. 11. - Fibula with niello work. 3rd century A.D.

Fig. 10.  Military Fibula.

Fig. 10. - Military Fibula. 3rd century A.D.

The T-form, the medallion-form, and (occasionally) the animal forms occur in Anglo-Saxon graves in England. In Kent the medallion-form predominates. The Anglo-Saxon brooches were exquisite works of art, ingeniously and tastefully constructed. They are often of gold, with a central boss, exquisitely decorated, the flat part of the brooch being a mosaic of turquoises, garnets on gold foil, mother of pearl, etc. arranged in geometric patterns, and the gold work enriched with filigree or decorated with dragonesque engravings.

Fig. 12.  Gold Fibula. Fig. 12. - Gold Fibula. 4th century A.D.

The Scandinavian brooches of the Viking period (A.D. 800-1050) were oval and convex, somewhat in the form of a tortoise. In their earliest form they occur in the form of a frog-like animal, itself developed from the previous Teutonic T-shaped type. With the introduction of the intricate system of ornament described above, the frog-like animal is gradually superseded by purely decorative lines. The convex bowls are then worked à jour with a perforated upper shell of chased work over an under shell of impure bronze, gilt on the convex side. These outer cases are at last decorated with open crown-like ornament and massive projecting bosses. The geographical distribution of these peculiar brooches indicates the extent of the conquests of the Northmen. They occur in northern Scotland, England, Ireland, Iceland, Normandy and Livonia.

Fig. 13.  Fibula of the Frankish period. Fig. 13. - Fibula of the Frankish period.

The Celtic group is characterized by the penannular form of the ring of the brooch and the greater length of the pin. The penannular ring, inserted through a hole at the head of the long pin, could be partially turned when the pin had been thrust through the material in such a way that the brooch became in effect a buckle. These brooches are usually of bronze or silver, chased or engraved with intricate designs of interlaced or dragonesque work in the style of the illuminated Celtic manuscripts of the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries. The Hunterston brooch, which was found at Hawking Craig in Ayrshire, is a well-known example of this style. Silver brooches of immense size, some having pins 15 in. in length, and the penannular ring of the brooch terminating in large knobs resembling thistle heads, are occasionally found in Viking hoards of this period, consisting of bullion, brooches and Cufic and Anglo-Saxon coins buried on Scottish soil. In medieval times the form of the brooch was usually a simple, flat circular disk, with open centre, the pin being equal in length to the diameter of the brooch. They were often inscribed with religious and talismanic formulae.

The Highland brooches were commonly of this form, but the disk was broader, and the central opening smaller in proportion to the size of the brooch. They were ornamented in the style so common on Highland powder-horns, with engraved patterns of interlacing work and foliage, arranged in geometrical spaces, and sometimes mingled with figures of animals.

(A. H. Sm.)

[1] The illustrations of this article are from Dr Robert Forrer's Reallexikon, by permission of W. Spemann, Berlin and Stuttgart.