The Hunterston Brooch
The Hunterston Brooch was found by two estate workers digging drains on Hunterston Estate in the autumn of 1826. Famous because of its beauty and size, it is made of silver, partially gilded and inset with gold filigree and studded with Amber.
Hunterston Brooch Back
Map Of Hunterston Brooch
The brooch is in almost perfect condition with only the point of the pin, some of the amber studs and all of their gold caps missing. The style and workmanship date to about AD 700. It is considered an outstanding piece of design and craftsmanship combining both Celtic and Anglo-Saxon features in a period which artistically was a golden age in the British Isles.
Either Scotland or Ireland might claim to be the country of its origin. At one time a man with a common Irish name, Malbride (or Malbrigda) owned it and has his name scratched in Norse runes on the back. He would have belonged to one of the mixed Celtic-Norse communities then settled along the coast beside the Irish sea.
Hunterston Brooch Front
Hunterston Brooch Front
We shall never know for how long the brooch lay in concealment below Goldenberry Hill. Some bones were found nearby creating speculation that the owner may have become a victim after the Battle of Largs in 1263. It would have been a person of high status to possess such a fine object.
Robert Hunter was the 25th laird at the time of this discovery and although he verbally requested the brooch remain a Hunter family heirloom, he made no legal provision in his Will. After his death his wife, against the wishes of their daughter Jane (26th laird) sold the brooch for 600 Pounds in March 1891 to the Scottish National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.
The original brooch is prominently displayed in the museum to show inscriptions on the reverse and is regarded even today, as one of the most important national treasures. After this sale, an exact replica was commissioned and is on display in Hunterston Castle. Smaller silver brooches modelled on the original are available for purchase from the Clan shop.
You will find us off the A78 just north of West Kilbride. Look for our driveway marked by stone pillars and "Hunterston Estate"
Hunterston KA23 9QG
Telephone: 07980 209060
*This number is not continuously manned, so please do leave us a message.
OPENING TIMES AND ACCESS
Acccess to Hunterston Castle is strictly by appointment. Note that as a historic monument, wheel chair access is limited. More visitor information is available on our visitors page . Please email us to arrange a visit.