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Germanic Equal Arm Brooches of the Migration Period

A study of their style chronology and distribution including a full catalogue of finds and their contexts

Dorothee Bruns


This work is a study of the much neglected brooch type - the “equal arm brooch”, a highly distinctive form of personal ornament – and the particular execution of an ornamental style that has only so far been found on examples from north-western Germany. The emergence of these brooches spans only the 5th century AD, and while in the beginning they were limited to the region between the rivers Elbe and Weser in north western Germany, later they are also found spread throughout many areas of England. The equal arm brooches, as well as other items of Germanic origin, were probably introduced to England by a splinter group of the migrating Angles and Saxons (probably migrants from the region between the mouths of the Elbe and Weser). Few researchers have dealt with the equal arm brooches in detail and the author’s aim in this study is to explore why equal arm brooches and their unique style emerged, developed so quickly, and then came to an abrupt decline. The volume succeeds in presenting this brooch type ina focused and comprehensive way, illustrating the differences and similarities between the various types and discussing the motifs and decoration as well as exploring their origin and possible social implication. Future research and finds (from both England and Germany) will be able to use this present study as a setting to assist with increasing knowledge of regional craftsmanshA and the ornament’s distribution on the Continent and in England.