Blackwell, Alice (2011) The iconography of the Hunterston brooch and related early medieval material. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 141. pp. 231-248. ISSN 0081-1564

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This paper highlights a new aspect of the design and iconographical programme of the Hunterston
brooch. Animals embedded in the form of the brooch terminals fiank the cross panel, and are
interpreted as a motif rooted in the Canticle of Habakkuk's assertion that Christ would be
recognised between two living things. This Old Testament text was given wide meaning by early
Christian thinkers, encompassing the central concept of the recognition, the 'knowing', of Christ
and thus can be regarded as a fundamentally important subject for expression. Visual expressions of
this theme are more prevalent than has been recognised, and occur in different variations across
media. Objects that feature the motif include those usually identified as secular metalwork such as
brooches, as well as church objects and Christian sculpture. Many expressions of the motif,
including those on the Hunterston and 'Tara' brooches, do not feature figurative depictions of
Christ. Instead - and in common with Pictish sculpture (but in contrast to Anglo-Saxon and Irish
sculpture) - a symbol such as the cross or lozenge is used to represent Christ. It is suggested
that the depiction of such a central Christian theme might lie behind the motivation to 'close the
gap' between the terminals of the Hunterston and 'Tara' brooches. If so, this adaptation would
provide a way to depict the motif which simultaneously maintained a visual link with the
traditional brooch form whilst highlighting
the 'new' Christian element precisely because it was what was added.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Theme: Material culture: creation and use
Department: Archaeology (to 2011)
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Depositing User: Users 15 not found.
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2013 11:26
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2017 15:15

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