Treasure of the British Museum: A Lovers’ Brooch

This Lovers’ brooch is Medieval 13th century AD from England. This gold ring brooch is set alternately with cabochon rubies and sapphires. The pin is set with a sapphire. The spaces between the gems are decorated with punched crosses and letters in Lombardic script. The reverse of the brooch carries an inscription (in abbreviated French) for the benefit of the wearer, ‘io sui ici en liu dami amo‘ (‘I am here in place of a friend love’), indicating that the brooch is likely to have been an expensive love token. Items of jewellery with sentimental inscriptions were often exchanged between wealthy lovers in the medieval period.

The outside of the hoop was often decorated to enhance the message or to form part of the message itself. Coloured enamels could be used, or chased motifs, like the sixteen stars on this example. The inscriptions were usually enamelled in black, which makes them easier to read, although very few survive with all their enamel. The language and the style of the inscription helps us to date them.

Next Week, another treasure.   Rita Bay


3 Responses

  1. Great post! I like the picture for the Medieval 13th century AD Lovers’ brooch. I enjoy reading about treasure from the past. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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