Whitfield, Niamh

Design and Techniques in Early Medieval Celtic Metalwork

Cloth bound

Publication: to be announced

24 x 17 cm
580 pp. 243 illus.



Book Description

Niamh Whitfield is a leading authority on the metalwork of early Medieval Ireland and Scotland . Celtic metalwork of the seventh to twelfth centuries is extremely accomplished technically, and she has aimed at a thorough understanding of its manufacture. She has also been concerned to place Early Medieval Celtic design in its European context, and to analyse its relationship with Anglo-Saxon and continental work, as well as its debt to traditions which ultimately originated in the Classical world.

Dr Whitfield has written about subjects as diverse as the origins of the gold used in early Medieval Ireland and Scotland , the development of animal ornament and geometrical principles of design. Her archival studies have succeeded in identifying the find-spot of the celebrated ‘ Tara ’ brooch and in documenting panels of ornament which are now missing. In addition, she has explored early Irish texts for attitudes to jewellery and clothing, considered the brooch as an emblem of status, looked at how brooches were worn, and whether descriptions of clothing and accessories in an early Irish saga provide an accurate description of contemporary finery.


  • Preface
  • Finery in fiction and in fact: aristocratic dress and accessories in the early Irish tale, ‘The Wooing of Becfhola‘
  • A Viking-age brooch fragment from recent excavations at Temple Bar West
  • The manufacture of beaded wire in the post-Roman period
  • More thoughts on the wearing of brooches in Early Medieval Ireland
  • The Tara brooch: an Irish emblem of status in its European Context
  • The earliest filigree in Ireland; Design and Units of Measure on the Hunterston Brooch
  • Corinthian Bronze and the Tara Brooch
  • The Waterford kite-brooch and its place in Irish metalwork
  • Filigree animal ornament from Ireland and Scotland of the late seventh to ninth centuries: its origins and development
  • The lozenge on the shoulder of the Book of Kells Virgin
  • Formal Conventions in the depiction of animals on Celtic metalwork
  • Some new research on gold and gold filigree from early Medieval Ireland and Scotland
  • The filigree of the Hunterston and Tara brooches
  • A mount with Hiberno-Saxon chipcarved animal ornament from Rerrick, near Dundrennan, Kirkcudbright, Scotland
  • The Killamery brooch: its stamped ornament and inscription; Round wire in the early Middle Ages
  • An Insular brooch-fragment from Norway
  • Motifs and techniques of Celtic filigree: Are they original?
  • The original appearance of the Tara brooch
  • The finding of the Tara brooch; Additional Notes
  • Index

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