The design of the Tara Brooch was in vogue in Ireland from about the 3rd century
A.D. to the 10th century; although their ancestry lies in the prehistoric era in Britain.
Used as ornamental cloak fastenings, brooches were normally made of bronze and
consisted of a gapped loop and a free-swiveling pin. The pin was stuck through folds
of cloth and the hoop rotated underneath it. The Tara Brooch in particular was found
in 1850 in material collapsed from a cliff at Bettystown Co. Meath. The 8th century
brooch is now in the National Museum of Ireland. The name "Tara" was given to it
by a dealer through whose hands it passed. The brooch is said to be made of bronze,
but is in fact made of cast silver gilt. The broader parts of the ring, the hoop and the
pin-head have, on the front, deep cast panels which carry elaborate filigree ornaments -
animal designs, snakes, interlace and scrolls. The sophistication and variety of the
ornaments make the Tara Brooch one of the three most accomplished pieces of 8th
century Irish metalwork.