The Tara Brooches at the National Museum of Ireland

29 Jan

Out of all the artifacts that I saw in the National Museum of Ireland, the one that caught my eye the most were a series of brooches. One such brooch is called the Tara Brooch which is a Celtic creation in 700 AD. These brooches are recognized as the most important works of early Christian Irish Insular art. The brooch has a pseudo-penannular form that can be made with silver, amber, copper, glass or gold, all of the highest quality. They were also elaborately decorated on the back and the front. The Tara Brooches did not contains motifs of either Christian nor pagan religions. They were most likely made for wealthy male patrons who wanted an expression of their personal status. The Tara Brooches may be one of the best preserved of several dozen different high-status brooches that were found in Britain or Ireland. However, these brooches were mostly found in Ireland. Although the main shape of every brooch is in the same style, each is embellished with a completely individual design. Another important detail of the brooches is that the metals used are all Precious metals, but when decorated with stones only semiprecious stones are used. The brooch is named after the Hill of Tara, which is traditionally seen as the seat of the High Kings of Ireland. However, the Tara Brooch has no connection to either the Hill of Tara or the High Kings of Ireland. The brooch was supposedly found in August 1850 on the beach at Bettystown, near Laytown, County Meath, some 30 miles north of Dublin. The finder, was a peasant woman, or possibly her two sons, claimed to have found it in a box buried in the sand. Though there are many that believe the brooch was found inland, and in order to avoid a legal claim by the landowner, she claimed to have found in on the beach. It was then sold to a dealer, then to a Dublin jeweler named George Waterhouse who was already producing Celtic Revival jewelry. He renamed it the “Tara Brooch” to make it more appealing.Image

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