Horse-Shaped Brooch

Date: 650–550 B.C.

Geography: Made in central Europe

Culture: Celtic

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: Overall: 1 5/16 x 1 13/16 x 1 1/4 in. (3.3 x 4.6 x 3.1 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Bronze

Credit Line: Gift of Ruth Blumka, in honor of Katharine R. Brown, 1992

Accession Number: 1992.107


This tiny brooch in the shape of a horse is one of a small group of central European animal pins that survive from the Iron Age. While some take the form of a stag or goat, all the pins are similar in that the animals are entirely three-dimensional, with the hind legs concealing the spring of the pin while the catch is attached to the forelegs. The horse remained an important shape for European brooches into the Celtic period, with numerous examples found in fifth-century graves. In prehistoric Europe, horses were difficult to obtain and expensive to maintain, thus making them important symbols of status and power. Perhaps brooches such as these were talismans, their power deriving from their representation of this highly valued and venerated animal.