Pennannular forms of the plaid brooch were first used in Scotland during the Iron Age around two thousand years ago. Plaid brooches were used to securely clasp plaids, shawls and cloaks. The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, has a very fine collection of plaid brooches; these include incredibly beautiful Pictish pennannular brooches and annular ring brooches of the sixteenteeth and seventeenth century Highland Scots.
The Victorian romanticisation of the Highlands created an interest in all things Scottish and with it a revival in Celtic jewellery. With Celtic design in vogue and tourists thick on the ground, Silversmiths throughout Scotland were quick to capitalise by creating high quality Scottish jewellery.
In the Highlands fine plaid brooches were crafted by Inverness jewellery makers William Mason, Robert Naughten, Arthur Medlock, Ferguson & MacBean and PG Wilson. Aberdeen silversmiths Rettie & Son, William Jamieson, James Walker and William Dunningham and Co. all made fine shoulder brooches and Celtic jewellery. William Robb of Ballater made exquisite silver pieces, including plaid brooches for the Royal family and the Balmoral Highlanders. Silverwork by Robb is now highly sought after and fetches high prices at auction. Edinburgh makers MacKay and Chisholm, Hamilton and Inches, Brook and Son and R&HB Kirkwood also made plaid brooches and Scottish jewellery of exceptional quality. The renowned Alexander Ritchie of Iona created timeless Celtic jewellery designs, some of which are still in production to this day, one hundred years on. Ritchie’s style of Celtic design influenced the work of later jewellery makers John Hart, Iain MacCormick and Hamish Dawson–Bowman.
Our plaid brooches are crafted by the family business founded by Hamish Dawson-Bowman, who carry on the long tradition of making high quality plaid brooches in Scotland.