Love token


The rear of Isabella’s brooch




When I went to see Isabella and Malcolm’s descendants on Skye in February, the owner of the dress showed me Isabella’s ring, brooch and snuffbox (made out of a cow’s horn with a silver lid). All three had the same engraving of her initials as you can see on the brooch above, although they have worn off the ring.

This brooch fits into the palm of your hand and the pin at the back is a bit useless as you are not able to pierce fabric with it (& hence would be no good as a brooch for an arisaid).

This evening I found out what it was thanks to those lovely two nerdy history girls: a luckenbooth brooch. The wiki page on Luckenbooth brooches explains everything on them, except how they were worn by women. I think it makes sense that it would be attached to a woman’s fichu, just before it is tucked in. The romantic in me imagines it on a fichu, on Isabella’s wedding day.

Whether it was given by Malcolm to Isabella at their betrothal or their wedding day we will probably never know. But what we do know is that it was treasured.

Updated on 19th April 2018 to add:

The jewellery was made by Thomas Borthwick, who was active in Inverness from 1772 until 1783.

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