V&A snaps up rare medieval brooch found in UK farmland

Ciara McGinley
Photo credit: V&A

From Good Housekeeping

The Victoria & Albert museum in London announced today (12 March) it had acquired a stunning Medieval brooch that was discovered in UK farmland.

The "priceless" 600-year-old brooch was found in 2017 by a metal detectorist during a dig in an old royal hunting ground near Brigstock in Northamptonshire.

Dating back to c. 1400 - 1450, the brooch is thought to have been made in either France or Germany. It's the only one of its kind to be found in the UK, and one of only seven known in the world!

Photo credit: V&A

The stunning gold triangular brooch is in the shape of a flower featuring two diamonds and one central cabochon spinel, with enamel decoration, and pearls - of which have since been lost due degradation.

If you want to get a look at the priceless brooch yourself, the historic piece will go on display in the V&A’s William and Judith Bollinger Jewellery Gallery as part of a display on Medieval jewellery from Thursday 12 March.

Photo credit: V&A

The brooch will also features in the final episode of BBC Two’s Secrets of the Museum, which airs this evening at 8pm.

According to experts, the brooch has religious and romantic symbolism.

James Robinson, Keeper of Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics and Glass at the V&A said: "During the period, diamonds were associated with strength and eternity due to the belief that they could not be broken or destroyed, while red stones such as spinels symbolised passion as well as good health, and pearls represented purity. Such brooches were made for an affluent and courtly clientele. Worn on the shoulder or breast, together with sumptuous textiles and other pieces of jewellery, they played an important part for the display of status and wealth in courtly fashion."

Photo credit: V&A

Justin Owens, the metal detectorist who found the brooch in 2017, said: "Finding the brooch was a complete surprise – I couldn’t believe it. At best I’d hope to come across a Roman or Medieval hammered coin on a dig, but to find something so rare and valuable as this was a total shock."

He added: "When I first found it, it was absolutely caked in mud. I didn’t have high hopes, thinking it might be an old bottle top or something. But what a discovery! Now I’ve seen it cleaned up by the V&A’s conservators, I can’t believe how exquisite it really is...

"It’s amazing to think who might have worn this and how it ended up buried underground, undisturbed, for so many years. I’m excited it’s now in the V&A’s collection and on display in its jewellery gallery for everyone to enjoy. I’m looking forward to visiting myself very soon."

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Photo credit: Hearst Owned

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