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Women's and girls' jewellery

British Museum

British Museum

This is a selection of fine jewellery that would have been worn by some women and girls in the middle of the Iron Age. Evidence from burials in this period indicates that very simple brooches were worn. However, apart from these, jewellery is uncommon and this suggests that few people at this time wore flamboyant costumes - especially as compared with women living in northern France or Germany at this time. Brooches were often very simple and little more than safety pins for holding clothes together. But some people did own brooches with decoration that could include red or white coral, or red glass. The brooch shown inside the necklace is very unusual as it has ample coral decoration. Glass beads were only made in a few places in Iron Age Britain. To own a necklace with so many beads was very unusual. Most women would have only worn one or two glass beads, if any at all. These were often not worn around the neck, but as earrings or in the hair. Bangles could have been worn around the wrists, but in some parts of northern Europe they were worn as anklets. They could be made out of bronze, but could also be carved out of soft stone such as shale or jet. Rings were also very uncommon, and might be worn on a finger or a toe.

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  • Title: Women's and girls' jewellery
  • Physical Dimensions: Diameter: 59.00mm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: cast; relief
  • Registration number: 1879,1209.534
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Cottam
  • Period/culture: Iron Age
  • Material: copper alloy
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Greenwell, William

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