Viking animal-head shaped brooch
viking boar head brooch

Viking boar head brooch.

Viking 'boar' brooch with interlaced panels

10th century AD

A bronze boar-head brooch with separate backplate; the body formed as a hollow-cast case with upstanding ears and raised bar to the muzzle separating two panels of three-strand interlace ornament; to the sides and top, panels of scrolled tendrils; backplate attached by five studs, with rectangular slot, pin-lugs, round-section pin and integral catchplate; hole to the brow between the ears to attach a chain, small casting flaw to nasal. 66 grams, length 55mm (2 1/4").

Its width is 38 mm at the broadest part (the 'ears' part) 38 mm and 23 mm at the smallest broadest part (the 'nose'). Its height is app. 25, 26 mm. Weight: 66.05 grams.

Very fine condition.

The form of boar-head brooch with a separately-cast backplate is introduced around 900 AD. Many examples have been pierced to accept an attachment chain from which utensils could be hung in an ostentatious manner. (text from the auction catalogue from Timeline Auctions May 2015).

Anders Carlsson, author of the book 'Djurhuvudformiga spännen och gotländsk vikingatid: Text och katalog (Stockholm studies in archaeology)' wrote to me:

'Your animal head brooch is type 5.4., period C, 10th Century. There are 48 of them on Gotland, mainly with rivetted base-plates.

Translation: brooches with animal ornamentation or geometrical design originating from animal ornaments, covering the whole surface. The ornamentation is divided in four fields, separated by a frame-work. The front has ornamentation originating in two birds, crossing each other'

An image of this type 5.4 can be found on page 48 of his book and I added a photo of that page below).

This specific kind of brooch is also published in Thunmark-Nyléns Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands, II. Typentafeln. 1998

Tafel 22, Picture 1 a-b.

Anders Carlsson also wrote to me:

'... I looked in Thunmark-Nyléns Die Wikingerzeit Gotlands, II. Typentafeln. 1998. Tafel 22, Picture 1 a-b.

There is a brooch exactly like yours, with rivetted base-plate and all, from Norrgårde in Hellvi parish on Gotland. It´s kept in the museum in Visby, GF A 3016. In my book it is number 46.36 on page 193. You can check the measurments to yours! It was found in a field in 1882. Perhaps they belong together! Se if the measurements are the same!'

The measurements of the brooch of from Norrgårde in Hellvi parish on Gotland  is 54 mm in length, width 39,5 mm and height ca 22 mm.

Making it possible - considering Anders Carlsson that 'If the farmer "secretly" sold a brooch in 1882 and handed in another to the museum (when told to do so), one brooch could have reached the market - why not?'

See also the blog on animal-head shaped brooch, also more in general:

Viking jewellry from the isle of Gotland - the animal head shaped brooch

See the brooch 'in action' just before the auction starts at the YouTube video on 1.48 and 1.49.

viking bear head brooch

Image here under from book 'Djurhudformiga spännen och gotlänsk vikingatid', p. 48, Typ 5.4

Djurhuvudformiga spännen och gotländsk vikingatid

Image hereunder under from book 'Der Wikingerzeit Gotlands, II. Typetafeln'. 1998. Tafel 22, picture 1 a-b.

viking boar head brooch museum Visby Gotland