Following the establishment of Viking cities such as Dublin and Waterford, there was a period of economic expansion resulting from a thriving trade in amber, silver and slaves, which in turn stimulated renewed artistic endeavour.
A fusion of native Irish and Viking artistic traditions, especially in fine metalwork, led to the development of a new style, known as Hiberno-Norse. This became one of the great cultural high points of early medieval Europe. The famous Lismore Crozier from County Waterford is the supreme example of this style.
Fine examples of Hiberno-Norse metalwork, including bracelets, a dog collar, stick pins and two beautifully-crafted ringed pins (dated to the 10th century), have been found in Waterford.
The finest secular example of 12th-century Hiberno-Norse metalwork is the Waterford Kite Brooch. Made from gold and silver it bears testimony to the wealth and sophistication of the city’s inhabitants.
Excavations have also revealed about 250 simple metal pins, used as dress fasteners by the ordinary people of Waterford. Among these was a bundle of seventeen pins, all with different decoration on the head. In the 9th and 10th centuries, small rings were attached to the head of the pin, a cord would be attached to the ring and then looped around the end of the pin to keep it in place and the garment securely closed.