The Virginia Brooch – A Short History

The Virginia Brooch was discovered on Lough Ramor’s shore close to Woodward’s Island near Virginia, Co. Cavan early in the nineteenth century. It dates from circa 900 AD, making it over 1000 years old.


It is described as a silver, bossed, Irish pennanular brooch. It measures 19.7 cm in length by 11.4 cm at its widest part. The eight raised bumps are bosses and it is pennanular because it is in the form of a ring, but with a break at one point.

This design was developed in Ireland during the ninth century from the older Tara type, which this example resembles. It is decorated with intricate Scandanavian design which reflects the Viking influence of the time.

Folklore says that the Vikings sailed up the river Boyne from Drogheda, into the River Blackwater and into Lough Ramor where they plundered a monastery on Woodward’s Island.

Current Location

The brooch has been adopted as the Virginia brooch and it is stored in the National Museum of Ireland, though not currently on display.

It was exhibited in the County Museum, Ballyjamesduff for four days in May 2012 during the Virginia 400 celebrations and was much admired by the many people who traveled distances to view it.