Rob’s Annular Brooch Resurrected

14th April 2016 — 12 Comments

Annular Brooch – © Rob Fallen – Click to enlarge

This blog was originally posted in February 2014. I have managed to retrieve the bulk of what was lost and added new content.

England and Scotland were uneasy neighbours in the Middle Ages, but I believe the situation has improved since those turbulent times. :-)

Scottish detectorist Rob Fallen certainly thinks so because he made the perilous journey down to Yorkshire in January 2014 looking for new land on which to swing his coil. He described the visit as ‘pillaging’, a word echoing those Medieval wars and associations with robbing and raiding.

The memory of what happened next shall remain with Rob for a long, long time. Over one week later he was still buzzing with excitement and was eager to share his find with other forum members. What he had discovered was a magnificent silver annular brooch of flat and rectangular cross section, reduced at line point for the pin to fit.

The front is decoratively engraved with the inscription + IHESVS N (i.e. Jesus of Nazareth) in Lombardic lettering. Rob recorded his find with the UKDFD and they went on to say …


© Rob Fallen

Between the letters there are panels of cross-hatching. The reverse is decorated with ten engraved radial motifs, each with the appearance of a letter ‘I’ with transverse hatching on its stem. 

The pin, which is intact, is plain except for a collar at the looped end. Circa 13th -14th century and measuring 20mm x 20mm x 1mm thick. Rob says that he was using a Minelab CTX 3030 with the 11 inch coil.


Annular Brooch Fragment – Courtesy off UKDFD

This example of an annular brooch fragment is from the UKDFD. It consists of part of the frame and an applied ornament, which is soldered to it. One half of the frame had a barley-twist effect, while the other was plain. A short length of each survives on the fragment, and the applied ornament is attached at the junction of the two. The ornament is in the form of a quatrefoil with four cusps or a four-petalled flower with sepals. A closely similar detached ornament is recorded as UKDFD 36114, and a complete brooch of generally similar type is recorded as UKDFD 35030.


During the Medieval period it became fashionable to use a brooch pinned at the neck as a type of fastener. The brooch pin was pushed through the edge of the garment, where a gap in the hem would have been left to allow a pin to be inserted. The Medieval Brooch was of the form shown with a constriction at one point on the diameter where a separate movable pin would have been hinged.

It’s interesting to note that Medieval brooches were worn by both men and women from the 12th century and were also extremely popular during the 13th and 14th centuries.

Acquired in 2010

6462_1_Mediev_broochAnother annular brooch that I greatly admire was found by a detectorist near Stratford-on-Avon and now housed in the Market Hall Museum, in Warwick. The gold, sapphire and garnet brooch was acquired in 2010 for £2800 and was the first brooch of its type to be recorded in the county.

Picture courtesy of Market Hall Museum – closed until September 2016.



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12 responses to Rob’s Annular Brooch Resurrected

  1. Great pictures. I would love to find one…. one day!

    Thanks for the blog

  2. Lovely Brooches.Only ever found a silver one myself.Great post John.

  3. I see it recorded as 13th to 14th Century. The soil was kind to it, a great find.

  4. I see it was recorded on UKDFD but did it ever go through the Treasure process? A lovely brooch that I and I suspect many others look at with hopes of finding smilar…

  5. What a wonderful find. Do you think that as well as being an ornament and a very practical cloak fastening, the inscription on this one would have functioned as a talisman or amulet to protect the wearer?
    Thanks so much for posting this, it certainly helps me to visualize how the medieval owner was dressed.

    • That sounds like a reasonable explanation, Karen.
      Thanks for your input. Maybe this one was an expression of status and worn by a member of the clergy. Annular brooches often hold messages of love, faith or piety – all of which are courtly or chivalric attributes in the medieval world.

  6. Another great read John.

  7. My favourite artifact ,if one day i ever find one like The gold, sapphire and garnet brooch ,i would retire from all the digging /detecting ect ect ,its the only thing i want to find,the only thing that keeps getting me out ,i have been searching for one ,for 38 years now ,found just about everthing you can find over all those years, but never a annular brooch /penanular Brooch,grrrr ,they are haunting me ,i am begining to hate the bloody things ,

  8. Ring out, wild brooches! As my metal detector approaches! Thank you John, for a tantalising article!

  9. John from Ontario (AKA Geobound) 17th April 2016 at 4:11 AM

    Great story John, I hadn’t heard of this one before.

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