The Legend of the Tara Brooch
The Irish tradition of metal working goes back over three thousand years to the Bronze Age. In those days, everyday items, such as swords and knives, were made out of iron. However, bronze, silver and gold were used in the design of brooches, pins, rings, buckles, crosses and chalices. The Tara Brooch is a classic example of Bronze Age craftsmanship. Discovered around 1850 in Bettystown, County Meath, it is exquisitley made in silver and gilt. Created in about 700 AD, the seven-inch long brooch was embellished with Celtic knotwork on both the front and the back. The original Tara Brooch is considered one of the most important extant artifacts of early Christian-era Irish Insular Art and is displayed in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. The Tara Brooch was originally not meant to be a brooch to hold clothing but rather to be decorative. Brooches contained neither Christan nor pagan religious motifs, and were made for wealthy partons who wanted a personal expression of status. Each Brooch was unique and individualized for the patron.