Prioress Anna Brooch
Groam House Museum
This circular brooch sheds light on the Iona Celtic Art movement, an important creative industry. The inspiration for the movement came from Alexander (Alec) and Euphemia Ritchie who moved to the island following their marriage in 1898 and set up a workshop from their home.
This brooch bears the mark of Iona-born metalworker Iain MacCormick who studied under Alec’s tutelage as a boy. This piece is based on an original design by his teacher and mentor, like much of MacCormick’s vast output of Celtic-design work.
The term ‘Prioress Anna brooch’ refers to the design, with four distinct arms, each decorated with the effigy from the tomb slab belonging to Anna MacLean, the prioress of Iona Nunnery until her death in 1543. The distinctive Celtic knotwork design can also be seen around the outside.
In 1945, MacCormick was one of the founder members of Celtic Art Industries, an organisation set up to foster the production of jewellery in a distinctive Scottish style and to provide training for disabled ex-soldiers.