What’s that in the ashes? The Tullahennell Brooch

Tullahennel brooch
The Tullahennell Brooch (Photo KCM)

What’s that in the ashes? The Tullahennell brooch dates from the early 7th century AD and was discovered in 2010 by Kerry woman, Mrs Sheila Edgeworth, in very unusual circumstances.  She found it in the waste ashes of her Stanley Range after turf from a nearby bog had been used as fuel. The brooch must have been embedded in one of the turf pieces and was unwittingly thrown into the fire. Amazingly the ancient artefact survived relatively undamaged and was spotted by Mrs Edgeworth, who subsequently notified local archaeologists.

The Edgworks (Photo The Kerryman)
The Edgworks (Photo The Kerryman)

Fashioned out of bronze, the brooch would originally have been decorated with red enamel and silver tinning, giving it a shiny, colourful appearance. It has distinctive zoomorphic terminals, which unusually for brooches of the period contain Chi-Rho symbols. This early Christian motif represents the first two letters of Christ’s name in the Greek alphabet and could indicate that the brooch had a religious association. Indeed, it’s not hard to imagine it being lost by a tired cleric as they slowly trudged across a Kerry bog nearly 1,400 years ago.


Griffen Murray: A Zoomorphic Penannular Brooch from Tullahennel North, Co. Kerry

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