Archaeological Collection

Traces of barbarian newcomers

Traces of barbarian newcomers
Item name:Traces of barbarian newcomers
Dating:Late 4th–6th c.
Findspot:Various sites
On display:Medieval Stories from the Crossroads


Some archaeological finds can be connected with the groups of barbarian peoples that came into contact with the population inhabiting the border zone between Italy and Illyricum in the late 4th and early 5th century. In spite of their low number, they are highly revealing and came to light in the cemetery at Ptuj Castle, in individual graves at Ljubljana and as habitation traces at Predjama near Postojna. Individual finds confirm the presence of foreigners at the early hilltop settlements.

The brooches from this period include two crossbow brooches (centre right), while the simple bow brooch (top) is slightly later; all have numerous comparisons in the area of the Gothic state along the Black Sea. Links with this area may also be seen in the pyramidal pendants of bone (centre right), presumably symbolising the club of Hercules or Donar and found at Ptuj Castle and Kranj.

Some artefacts also show connections with the Central Danube Basin, the territory of the Suebi. One such item is a brooch from the grave of a young woman found in the garden of the National Museum of Slovenia in Ljubljana. The two fragments of ‘nomadic’ mirrors of white metal are later in date; the metal is an alloy of copper and a large amount of tin, both of which are eastern in origin.

The most numerous foreign objects are Germanic brooches, predominantly dating to the late 5th and the 6th century. They are made of gilded silver and come in a variety of shapes (radiate-headed, bird-shaped, S-shaped), with chip-carved decoration and often with garnet inlays. Inlays of semi-precious stones also decorated finger rings, different pendants and cloisonné mounts.


1. Brooch, bronze, l. 6.56 cm, Sv. Lambert near Pristava nad Stično, Inv. No. S 2484.

2. Brooch, bronze, l. 7.26 cm, Gora above Polhov Gradec, Inv. No. R 16618.

3. Brooch, bronze, l. 6.44 cm, Ljubljana, garden of the National Museum, Inv. No. R 15321.

4. Brooch, iron, l. 5.35 cm, Limberk above Velika Račna, Inv. No. S 2550 (Pflaum 2001, 29, Cat. No. 74).

5. Brooches, bronze, l. 4.52 and 3.85 cm, Gradišče at Čepna, Inv. Nos. R 1641 and R 1642.

6. Fragment of a mirror, white bronze, size 3.4 × 2.4 cm, Tinje above Loka pri Žusmu, Inv. No. S 3223.

7. Fragment of a mirror, white bronze, size 4.8 × 3.5 cm, Puštal above Trnje near Škofja Loka, Inv. No. S 5088.

8. Brooch, gilded silver, reconstr. l. 15.3 cm, Gradec near Velika Strmica, Inv. Nos. S 2557 and S 3401.

9. Necklace beads, amber and glass, l. up to 2.5 cm, Ljubljana, garden of the National Museum, Inv. Nos. R 17375a–c.

10. Pendant, bone, h. 2.66 cm, Lajh in Kranj, Grave 243, Inv. No. S 1356.

11. Finger ring, gold and carnelian, h. 2.2 cm, Gradec near Velika Strmica, Inv. No. S 2543.

12. S-shaped brooch, gilded silver and garnet, l. 2.45 cm, Sv. Lambert near Pristava nad Stično, Inv. No. S 3210.

13. Brooch in the shape of a bird of prey, gilded silver and garnet, l. 2.92 cm, Korinjski hrib above Veliki Korinj, Inv. No. S 3004.

14. Pair of brooches, gilded silver, garnet and iron, l. 2.69 cm, Sveta Gora in Zasavje, Inv. Nos. S 2265 and S 2266.

15. Part of a mount, gold and garnet, l. 4.12 cm, Zidani gaber above Mihovo, Inv. No. S 2649.

16. Earring pendant, gold, glass and garnet, h. 3.02 cm, Gradec near Velika Strmica, Inv. No. S 2558.

Further reading

Knific, Timotej in Nabergoj, Tomaž, 2016: Medieval Stories from the Crossroads, Ljubljana, Fig. 13, pp. 20, 218, 219.

On display in the Permanent Exhibition