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Armlet(S) (Bronze)

Site Name Pitkelloney

Classification Armlet(S) (Bronze)

Alternative Name(s) Drummond Castle; Muthill

Canmore ID 25348

Site Number NN81NE 9

NGR NN 86 16

NGR Description NN c. 86 16

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Perth And Kinross
  • Parish Muthill
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Perth And Kinross
  • Former County Perthshire

Archaeology Notes

NN81NE 9 c. 86 16.

Two bronze armlets were found in 1837 on the farm of Pitkelloney a few hundred yards above the farm of Muthill and two miles from Drummond Castle. They were within a few feet of each other, and slightly covered with earth.

W Jerdan 1840

The armlets are in the British Museum (Reg. No: 38.7-14, 3 a and b). They are comparable with the pair from Castle Newe, Aberdeenshire (NJ31SE 3), which are of native north-British type, second century AD.

British Museum 1953

No further information.

Visited by OS (RD) 19 May 1967.

Two pairs of bronze armlets from Castle Newe (NJ31SE 3) and Drummond Castle (NN81NE 9) are held in the British Museum and form part of a group of some fifteen similar finds, almost all from Scotland. They were apparently cast flat by the cire perdue technique, and subsequently curved by annealing and hammering before consolidation and inlay decoration. The group has been tentatively assigned to between about 50 and 150 AD.

Scientific examination (n the British Museum Research Laboratory) of the Castle Newe and Drummond Castle examples has shown the inset decoration to be of glass and not enamel as previously thought. The bodies of all four armlets are of copper, zinc and tin allot with traces (probably fortuitous) of lead, silver, nickel and iron. The Castle Newe examples may be considered as bronzes and those from Drummond Castle as brasses. The chemical compositions of the Castle Newe pieces are sufficiently alike to suggest that they were cast from the same batch of metal, but this is not true of the Drummond Castle examples which display significant compositional differences. One of the latter (BM 38,7-14, 3a) was poorly cast and displays at least three casting flaws which were repaired by casting-in during the later stages of manufacture.

In all four cases, the process of fabrication apparently comprise (in sequence):

1. casting to (very roughly) U-shape, possibly with those parts of the design in highest relief indicated in the casting,

2. the rest of the design raised by repousse and chasing. There are signs of flow-over of metal and under-cutting at the crossover points in the X-shaped parts of the design and disturbed metal is associated with the oval-shaped protrusions, which were shown by metallographic examination to have a worked and annealed structure,

3. terminals bent round through roughly 45 degrees (as indicated by hammering-marks) and re-annealed.

Both the Drummond Castle armlets and one of the Castle Newe pair are inset with roundels containing yellow and red glass. The Drummond Castle settings consist of circular brass frames of semi-tubular section which surround the brass plate containing the glasses and are backed by iron plates, now almost entirely corroded. Each such structure is held together by brass rivets which pass through the frame to the back of the setting. The settings themselves are located over openings on the terminals of the armlets and are retained in position by a brass pin passing through a loop on the underside of an extension of the frame of the setting. The colourant and opacifier used in the yellow glasses of the Drummond Castle armlets was shown by X-ray diffraction to be cubic lead-tin oxide and the red glass was shown to be cuprite.

The pair of armlets found in 1837 on the farm of Pitkellony near Drummond Castle under accession numbers BM 38, 7-14, 3a (no. 1) and BM 38, 7-14, 3b (no. 2) respectively; each measures 144mm in diameter.

No. 1 is of 'spiral' type, being formed from a spiral of half-round bronze bar. The coils are only joined along their edges by secondary blobs of metal, which have been run in. The lower bar starts a little way from one terminal, continues to form the margin of the opposite terminal and then runs back to the first terminal before returning to just before the end of the second terminal. The convex outsides of the bars are decorated with transverse lenticular mouldings, between which are either diagonal ridges flanked by raised semi-circles curving inwards or crossed ridges with a pair of small lenticular bosses flanking the junction. The terminals are decorated with a variant of the latter design, having lipped lenticular mouldings at the end. In the centre of each terminal is a medallion of red glass with a yellow cross, set in circular mounts formed of sheet-bronze tubes, which have extensions between the bars at the front of the armlet. At the back of each medallion is a layer of rust-like encrustation, and each mount is retained by a hook fastened over a thin rod lying across the main bars of the armlet. Inside the main bars are two rough patches of added metal.

No. 2 is similarly decorated and of comparable structure, except for a convex moulding with five transverse ribs which lies between (and external to) two of the main ribs. This moulding appears to be a separate piece of metal hooked over the end of one of the main bars.

J Brailsford 1975.


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