When railway construction came to the north it resulted in a number of archaeological finds. Amongst these was the piece of jewellery that is now known as The Rogart Brooch
Three penannular brooches were found in 1868, forming part of a much larger hoard of 8th century Pictish metalwork, consisting of between 9 and 11 pieces. Most of these have now been dispersed and lost.
Two large brooches (3 inches and 4½ inches in diameter) were gold-plated silver while a small brooch (1¾ inches in diameter) was made of bronze. The brooches were made some time between 700 and 800 AD and would have been used to secure cloaks over the shoulders.
R B A McLeod of Cadboll, Invergordon, Ross-shire bought the two larger brooches and he, confusingly, named them ‘The Cadboll Brooches’. He exhibited them to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1870 and they were purchased by the National Museums of Scotland in 1888.
The smallest brooch was acquired by the Duke of Sutherland and is now in Dunrobin Castle Museum, Golspie. Perhaps to muddy the waters even more, the National Museum of Scotland claims the brooch to be held at Dunrobin Castle, Skye (sic)!
Who would have worn the brooch?
The brooches were worn by both men and women, usually singly at the shoulder by men and on the breast by women, and with the pin pointing upwards. An Irish law code says that in the event of injury from a pin to another person, the wearer is not at fault if the pin did not project too far and the brooch was worn in these ways by the sexes.
The owners of such fine objects were people of higher than average social status.
Amongst the delicate detail
Amid the silver with gilding and glass, a close-up of brooch reveals two birds drinking from a fountain,
The most elaborate examples of penannular brooches were clearly significant expressions of status at the top of society, The presence of the hoard in Rogart points to people of affluence, culture and importance living in the area.
The illustration, taken from Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, shows the three brooches from the Rogart Hoard, including the detail of the sipping bird.