Thursday, 6 December 2012

Fabulous Fashion...Iron Age Style

Today I have for you a fashion must have, forget Tiffany's it's all about the shale ladies (and gents).

Image taken from Glasgow Museums
This particular example was discovered in a churchyard in, Portpatrick, Scotland.  It is currently held by Glasgow Museums; however it sadly does not feature in a display and is currently in storage.  Whether you want to call it a bracelet, a bangle or an armlet its' beauty is timeless.  This example is thought to be Iron Age but it is possible that it was Roman. 
Shale bracelets have been a must have accessory since the Bronze Age and areas such as Kimmeridge, Dorset were centres of production.  Their frequency across Britain is testament to the trade routes that were utilised in Prehistory.  The production of such artefacts left an inner shale disc, perfectly formed with a slight dent in the centre, these were so frequently discovered in the Dorset region that they were initially thought to be an early currency.  This example is rare as it is completely in tact, they are usually discovered in a fragmentary condition and this is likely to have helped the formation of the currency theories.  The work that went into its' creation is clear to see, they are always perfectly rounded, smooth and still polished to a point that after the mud is wiped away they shine like they were made that morning.  It is hard to know who wore them or why!  They pop up everywhere, in contexts associated with both genders and some are so small they are potentially for children.  I would not say that they were a practical item, more an item of adornment, but, their presence within the archaeological record suggests that they were treasured items and well curated by their owners.  They have always amazed me, always a piece of prehistoric perfection.

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