An Antique Agate ‘Targe’ Brooch

Scottish, c.1860


of circular shape, comprising of tapered panels of delicately figured grey agates, punctuated by cabochons of bright red jasper at the intersections, the centre mounted with a spike carved from bloodstone with the tip in red jasper, mounted in yellow gold with gold beading and wire work decoration.

Diameter: 3.6cm

The design is derived from a style of shield known as a ‘targe’, which were used widely during the medieval period across Europe and would become synonymous with Scottish warfare until the eighteenth century. These shields were circular in shape and often decorated with metals studs, sometimes with a spike protruding from the centre.

The agates and jaspers used to fashion this brooch would have been found in Scotland, making this an intrinsically Scottish jewel.




The nineteenth century saw an intense interest in the history and folklore of Scotland. King George IV’s visit in 1822 was the first made by a reigning monarch for nearly two centuries. For the occasion the King embraced traditional Highland dress, wearing a kilt and tartan, which prompted a revival of these garments and the jewels used to fasten them. The writing of Sir Walter Scott popularized a romantic vision of  Scotland across Great Britain, a vision which proved irresistible to Queen Victoria. The revival would continue throughout her reign, reinvigorated by her acquisition of Balmoral Castle (which she bedecked in strident tartan) and regular visits to Scotland. During these visits, the Queen would often acquire souvenirs for family members and courtiers, jewels mounted with Scottish hardstones and pearls based on traditional Highland designs.