The ring fibula

Brooches and fibulae were worn from ancient times to pinning clothes and as a status symbol. They were worn by all classes, except for the lower classes. This article elaborates on the different types ringfibulae that were worn in the early Middle Ages.
The circular ring fibula and the disc fibula brooches were the most common in the early Middle Ages. Some specimens, such as Tara and Hunterston brooches are richly decorated. This decorated specimens almost always made ​​by goldsmiths from a monastic community. The fibula was usually both practical and symbolic. However, some were clearly not practical, because they had a long pin of 20 to 30 cm.
The ringfibulae can not be clearly dated. Most brooches with ornaments come from the time when the Vikings in Ireland and Scotland had colonies. The Vikings took various parts of the brooches and added some new elements. At the beginning of the last century the Irish brooches are typed. However, this characterization is quite outdated and can be taken as a guide only loosely.

early ringfibulae
The first type ring fibula were easily made ​​and worn from the 3rd century and came in the 4th or 5th century, toward Ireland. The type may be caused by the renewed trade contacts between the Western and Eastern Roman Empire and the Germanic fashion that inspired it. These brooches were in use during the Roman domination, but became more popular around the early Middle Ages. Perhaps this was because the brooch was a status symbol or by changes in fashion trends. This type of fibula was taken over by the pagan Saxons.
5th and 6th century brooches were more derived from Roman design and were often decorated with stylized animal motifs. Between the 6th and 7th century fibulae became more decorated. Most early copies were made ​​of iron or bronze and its design much easier than the later models. Brooches were decorated with stylized animal motifs or with simple grooves in the metal.

The ring broken fibula
The broken fibula ring was worn only in Ireland and to a lesser extent in Scotland. He is, as the ring fibula, circular, but the circle is broken and the two ends are often wider than the ring. The opening could fall over the pin, which was often very long. A variant is the pseudo-broken ring fibula, where the opening is closed with a strip of metal. Pictures from Ireland show that the broken fibula ring with the pin upwards and the opening was worn down.
The Old-Irish texts warn that the brooch could injure other people because of its large pin and therefore had to be used safely. Probably men wore the brooch on the shoulder and females on the chest. The brooch was used to keep in place the brat, a circular shell. He was supported by both citizens and clergy.
The value of the brooch depended on the material, size and decoration. Most luxury brooches have a base of copper, bronze or iron and plated or inlaid with gold. But is made ​​of pure gold only Derry 9th century brooch. The ends of the brooches were beaten flat of the 6th to the 9th century, so there was more room for decoration. Some brooches are also complete works, which have invested thousands of hours of work.
The broken ring fibula seems to be a typical Irish brooch, but was taken over by the Picts who were setting him in a whole other Pictish art style. They were almost certainly made ​​by silversmiths, trained in monasteries. These jewelers also probably made ​​the designs for illuminations of manuscripts. Few of the broken ringfibulae have been found in tombs and the ones that are found in graves, like the grave Norwegian Westray in the Orkneys, it seems clear that he has changed owners.

From the end of the 8th century the Vikings pillaged monasteries in Scotland and Ireland. Shortly afterwards they built winter quarters and then whole cities on the islands such as Dublin, Cork and Waterford. These were the first towns in Ireland and soon they grew to international trade centers.
The Scandinavians who settled in Ireland and Scotland, were far outnumbered compared to the original population. Soon, customs and traditions were taken apart and there was a Norse-Gaelic culture. One of the technological traditions that took over from the Celtic culture was the frequent use of the ring broken fibula. Of course, the Vikings were already familiar with the ring brooch, which she wore in a unique variant. The newly created brooches were adorned with a unique art style that was not clear Scandinavian or Celtic. The brooches were worn by both Celts and by Vikings and gradually replaced the older types of brooches. These brooches were worn in the same way as their predecessors and probably they served also as a status symbol. This type of brooches is found throughout the Viking world. Possibly they were a commodity as artwork. It was not until the late 11th century until brooches slowly fell into disuse. At that time there was a new type of ring broken fibula introduced: the thistle fibula. This type was used extensively in Ireland and Scotland.