The Luckenbooth brooch is a Scottish symbol of love dating back to the 17th century. Often given as a love token or betrothal gift, the silver brooch typically shows two intertwined hearts symbolising love, topped with a crown to denote loyalty. The name is believed to have derived from the shops or ‘locked booths’ that sold jewellery along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. In the past a Luckenbooth brooch would also have been pinned to a baby’s shawl to protect it from harm and to prevent witches from stealing the milk of a nursing mother.
My interpretation of the Luckenbooth brooch replaces the usual jewelled crown with antlers; the majestic 'crown' of the Royal Stag with its twelve points or tines. In the centre sits Scotland’s national emblem, the thistle. The repeating motif is reminiscent of dancers performing the traditional Highland Fling; arms held high with fingers forming the antler's points and dancing on a background of heather-coloured tartan.
It was during an episode of Hannibal when I decided to incorporate antlers. As any fan will know, antlers feature prominently throughout the series in all manner of gruesome ways, as do hearts; usually served up from Hannibal Lector's kitchen with actor Mads Mikkelsen, as Hannibal, wearing those exquisite plaid suits. Strangely, it seems Hannibal may well have influenced the whole design.
As with the previous two boxed-sets of cards, the Cornish chough and the lyrebird, I’ve placed an excerpt from a poem on the back of one of the tags. For this Scottish design the choice was obvious - Robert Burns and his 1789 song and poem ‘My heart’s in the Highlands’.
My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer,
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.
Though my dad is not generally a card-giver, the pattern is for him and the Scottish side of my family. Oh and maybe Mads Mikkelsen too...