Kaga Relief Brooch Reconstructed

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i-aa8b971a1d92c9f0aa458e1983c18ee9-Gillberga plus Sattuna lores.jpgA few weeks back, myself and the Gothenburg metal detectorist team found some fine things in Kaga parish, Östergötland, as recounted here. One is a piece of an early 6th century, Migration Period, bronze, equal-armed relief brooch in Salin's Style I. It was originally probably gilded and decorated with niello.

My dear colleague Bente Magnus is an authority on these rare brooches. She has lent me a photograph of a complete specimen that must be very similar to what the Kaga brooch looked like when new. The complete brooch is a bog find from Gillberga in Svennevad parish, Nericia, Sweden (SHM 3445). Unlike the Kaga find, the Gillberga brooch is made of silver with glass inlay, and it is even more finely moulded than our new find. The maximum width of the two brooches is 53 mm in Gillberga, 42 mm in Kaga. Another difference is that the Gillberga brooch has stylised quadrupeds along the edges, while the Kaga brooch has birds executed in the final, most ribbon-like version of Style I.

Aristocratic women wore brooches like these horizontally under the chin to secure a shawl or cloak. As you can see from the photographs, the workmanship is quite exceptional (as is that of the unattributed photograph of the Gillberga brooch!). Casting-mould fragments show that brooches like these were made at the aristocratic settlement of Helgö near Stockholm.

More pix below the fold.

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By Mustafa Mond, FCD (not verified) on 03 May 2007 #permalink

"women wore brooches like these horizontally under the chin to secure a shawl or cloak."

Right up under the chin, or lower down on the sternum? Having the weight of a cloak or shawl dragging on your throat is most unpleasant. The only time I would have a brooche against my throat would be to secure a shawl or scarf over my head, not for something hanging from my shoulders.
Have there been traces of cloth found on the backs of any of these? If so what weight and quality?

Roughly coeval pictures suggest that they were worn very high up. The brooches are often strongly worn along the edges and at the apex of the bow, suggesting that such a lady would often wear a thick woolen cloak over the jewellery when travelling.

Don't know about preserved textile.

On your Kaga piece there is a raised, circular bump, central to the radiating motif which looks like it has a surrounding bezel. Is that filled with anything, or is it just a solid decorative boss?

On the Gillberga brooch, that's an inlay socket. On the El Cheapo Kaga brooch, it's solid cast metal. This hints that the Kaga piece is a copy or budget version of a Gillberga-style silver brooch.