Weapon decorates a beautiful brooch

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Exhibit of the week comes from Ryedale Folk Museum in the form of a pre-historic arrowhead brooch.

This brooch has a very simple and delicate design and is made out of flint arrowhead, with nine carat gold claws holding the arrow head in place.

This pre-historic flint 
arrowhead was found South of Moor Lane, Wold House, in Farndale at the turn of the century. Unfortunately the person who donated this piece didn’t know who actually found it.

The main feature of this brooch is the arrowhead. Often these were created for use in tools and as weapons to kill food to eat, or to create weapons for warfare, so having this as a dainty decorative element is really lovely, when its main purpose was often very practical. The earliest arrowheads were made of stone, and as civilization progressed so did the materials used. The one used here is an example of a flint arrowhead, created through a traditional technique called flint knapping.

Flint knapping was a carefully controlled craft, where using special tools larger pieces of high silica stones, like flint, were chipped away to create a very definite point; a skill we don’t often see used today.

In ancient times brooches were often called fibula, and were used mainly to hold garments closed, like outer cloaks or tunics. Brooches soon developed into having a more decorative purpose like we see today. Brooches, by the type of design, material and technique used in creating them can tell us a lot about the person wearing it and the date it was made, and sometimes even of what religion or position they held. For example for the traditional hiring fair held locally in the area years ago, potential employees looking for work would wear a brooch which represented the job/craft they worked in, so a straw worker would have created a straw spun brooch, the potential employers would look at this, and taking the brooch pin and the person’s stature alone, would decided whether to employ them for the year.

This isn’t the only brooch we have in our collection either, the two newest acquisitions are memorial brooches, designed to hold a lock of hair or picture of a loved one that had died.

They are both quite unique, one is a pie shaped design each slice made up of a different type of gem stone, and the other consists of two crossed tennis rackets, with small balls and a net, with small locket areas to hold the image or hair. Both are very individual in style and very interestingly show the development of a brooch from a thing of practicality to something more meaningful. A brooch for every occasion!

The Ryedale Folk Museum collections are large (over 40,000 objects) and range from complete rescued and reconstructed buildings to flint microliths.

They document human activity in Ryedale from prehistoric time to the present day. If you have an enquiry 
or would like access to the collections please contact info@ryedalefolkmuseum.co.uk.