This is an ancient Iron Age (Pictish?) base silver or silver alloy chain, dating to the 4th - 6th century A.D. The massive chain is made from sixty-six double interlocked rings, secured with a spiral ring. The chain was acquired from a collector in New York, sold as Viking, originally from an old collection put together by a retired archaeology professor. This is interesting as places it within the bounds of a possible 'Pictish' chain, from Ireland or Scotland? The material appears to be of bronze or copper-alloy, though the patina is more consistent with a base silver or billion metal. We know from records that the Nigg chain was thought to be of bronze when originally discovered during the late 18th century, only after conservation and cleaning it was confirmed to be of a base silver alloy. Further chains can be found in the NMS 'Pictish chains of silver' or the 'Nigg Pictish silver chain' for further commentary. This example has not been scientifically tested or researched, it will require a XRF (X-ray fluorescence) test to determine composition, but some silver appears to be under the patinated surface.
This example is wide enough for one's head to pass through and large enough to be worn around the shoulders (like a Lord Mayor's Livery Collar), the weight is good (not too heavy) to be worn. The chain has not been opened, it is still securely closed with a spiral ring, these are often sold as Iron Age finger rings (this is the first time I have seen one being used for such a purpose). The individual rings appear to be 'Celtic' to me, if found singularly would be classed as 'Celtic Ring Money' pieces, from c. 500 B.C. - 500 A.D.
This is a very interesting chain, either of a Celtic Iron Age date, or a later Pictish one. Rare and unique to find such an item on the market!
OBJECT: Chain / Collar
CULTURE: Iron Age, Celtic / Pictish
DATE: c. 4th - 6th century A.D.
MATERIAL: Billion Silver Copper-Alloy
SIZE: link c. 18mm x 3mm (870mm or 34" long)
WEIGHT: 457.7 grams
PROVENANCE: Ex. private collection, New York. Originally from an old collection put together by a retired archaeology professor.
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