Conference Paper (unpublished)

Who made the turreted brooches of Argyll?



Ramsay R (2018) Who made the turreted brooches of Argyll?. Dress and Decor: domestic textiles and personal adornment in Scotland up to 1700, St Andrews, 23.09.2018-24.09.2018.

In the late 1500s three spectacular amulet brooches were produced for the Argyll families MacLean, Macdougall and Mackay. These are the famed turreted brooches of Lochbuie, Lorn and Ugadale. Unusual in relation to other brooches of the time, but stylistically similar to each other, they are often written about together. The Lochbuie and Lorn brooches are close enough in style for scholars to have proposed that they are the work of the same workshop, if not the same maker. At least two of these brooches, the Lorn and Ugadale, were refashionings of earlier pieces, and feature an older hereditary stone. Around 1730, around 200 years after it was made, an inscription was added to the Lochbuie brooch stating that it was made by a ‘Tinker’. This claim has since been disputed on various grounds, including style and skills, but will be revisited here. As well as looking at the style of these works, this paper will examine the skills, materials and techniques involved, in relation to what is known of itinerant silversmithing, and by comparing the work to pieces more fully acknowledged to have been produced by travelling Céards. Drawing on elements of art historical, ethnographic and archaeological research this paper will challenge assumptions made about Gypsy/Traveller itinerancy, itinerant craftwork, and Gypsy/Traveller silversmithing. It will also look at workshops, commissioning and trade in relation to itinerant craftspeople and metalworkers in general.

FundersArts and Humanities Research Council
Related URLs…f-presentations/
ConferenceDress and Decor: domestic textiles and personal adornment in Scotland up to 1700
Conference locationSt Andrews

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Mrs Rhona Ramsay

Mrs Rhona Ramsay

PhD Researcher, History and Politics - Division

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