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Help needed to pin down an answer | enigmatic artefacts

Originally posted online on 4 November 2014 at

One of the delightful things about having a presence in archaeology-related social
media is that I frequently receive requests for help, advice, and assistance from a wide
variety of people. Some questions I can answer directly and some I can at least offer
pointers as to who may be better placed and more knowledgeable. In any case, I always
feel honoured that people think I can help and reach out for assistance. In this case, I
am, however, stumped!

I was recently contacted by a student of archaeology at Warsaw University, in Poland.

She is currently working with a collection metal detected finds from central Poland.
Most of the artefacts date to the period for the 1st to 3rd centuries AD (the Roman
Influences Period) and appear to derive from a cemetery related to the Iron
Age Przeworsk Culture. However, the collection also contains some pieces of Migration
Period date (4th and 5th centuries AD) that appear to have affinities with German

She is having difficulties finding parallels for one of the pins in this collection and none
of the Early Medieval specialists she has spoken to can help. The reason she made
contact with me is that she sees a slight parallel between the Gajew example and one
from Drumclay crannog, Co. Fermanagh, that she saw on this blog.

Bronze? Pin from Gajew, Poland (Source)

Copper alloy dress pin from Drumclay, Co. Fermanagh (Source)

Unfortunately (for me), I am nowhere near as knowledgeable as I would like to be/give

the impression that I am. I am certainly no expert when it comes to pins be they Irish
or Polish! Im also not sure whos the best person to reach out to on this, either. For
the record, I suggested that while I can recognise some similarities between the two
artefacts, I reckoned that it was coincidence, rather than any genuine commonality
but I really have no idea! Rather than give such a bland and unhelpful response, I
suggested throwing the question open in the hope of crowdsourcing a better answer.

She is obviously very hopeful that this process will bear fruit, as she has also asked that
I show an image of a second artefact. She thinks it may be part of a bracelet or necklace,
but has no clear idea as to its time of manufacture. It appears to have been created by
moulding a bronze plate over an iron core. I'm afraid I've no clear ideas on this one,
either, though I seem to remember that some of the Irish equestrian 'Y-pieces' may
have been made in this way, though I'm wary of falling into the old trap of ascribing
every piece of metalwork that's not easily identifiable to the category of 'horse harness'.
Possible bracelet/necklace fragment. Bronze on iron core from Gajew, Poland

If anyone has any ideas, suggestions, or definite leads, I would be grateful if you could
share them in the comments on this blog.

Thanks to all who can help,


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