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Ring brooch

  • Place of origin:

    Scotland (made)

  • Date:

    probably 17th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dame Joan Evans

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 69, shelf C, box 4

The traditional jewellery of Norway and Scotland shows the strong historic and geographic links between the two countries.

In both places the ring brooch is the most distinctive item. Ring brooches can be circular or heart-shaped, and their design dates from the Middle Ages. They differ from modern brooches in the way they fasten. The wearer pulls the cloth of the garment through the central hole, and then spears it with the pin. The greater the strain on the pin, the more secure the fastening.

Heart brooches are one of the commonest surviving types of Scottish traditional brooch. They are sometimes called luckenbooth brooches, after the stalls round St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, where they were sold in the 19th century. They are also known as witches' brooches. Small heart brooches were often fastened in children's clothing for 'averting the evil eye and keeping away witches'. Mothers also wore them to prevent the witches from stealing their milk. They were frequently given as love tokens. Women wore them at the neck of their shift to keep the front opening closed.

Most traditional Scottish heart brooches were made of silver, as the rural people who wore them could rarely afford gold. This brooch may have belonged to a townswoman. It is made of heavy gold, and the design of a heart pierced by two arrows is more sophisticated than is usual.

Physical description

Gold ring brooch in the form of a crowned heart pierced by arrows.

Place of Origin

Scotland (made)


probably 17th century (made)



Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

Engraved on the reverse.


Height: 2.7 cm, Height: 2.1 cm, Depth: 0.4 cm

Descriptive line

Gold ring brooch in the form of a crowned heart pierced by arrows, Scotland, probably 17th century.





Subjects depicted

Crowns; Hearts; Pierced hearts; Arrows


Jewellery; Metalwork; Scotland


Metalwork Collection

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