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Terminal for an Open Ring Brooch

Fragment notwithstanding, this terminal brooch is, artistically and technically, one of the finest pieces that have survived from the great Viking era. The silver sphere (now slightly wrinkled) was cast from a hollow alloy, and almost its entire surface is decorated with blacksmithing in the early Viking style known as Jellinge/Mammen. The raised twisted gold wire forms a trefoil-shaped ring pattern on the raised round gold panel. The two adjacent triangular gold panels are filled with spikes, and one has a medallion with serpentine tendrils in the center.

The terminal bears a typological and aesthetic similarity to the terminal brooch and pin head found in the large Viking silver hoard at Eketorp, Sweden, in 1950 and 1955, which are now in the Örebro Lance Regional Museum, west of Stockholm. Like this item, much of the Eketorp hoard consists of silver that was broken into pieces during and after the Viking period, a common practice in monetary exchange. Restored to its original form, this magnificent brooch would have been one of the largest and heaviest known in Viking-era Europe; clearly its first owner was an important figure.