Brooches are a common find on Roman sites and are one of the most popular Roman antiquities for sale to collectors. They can all be dated due to changes in fashion and thus types of brooches through Roman history. In Britain, their appearance in the archaeological record allows us to trace the spread of the Roman army and culture after the invasion in 43 AD.
Pre-Roman Colchester type brooches continued to be used after the Romans arrived. These were made in one piece with the bow, spring and pin all fashioned from a single copper alloy casting. The Romans introduced new brooch types. The bow and pin mechanisms were made easier to produce by casting them separately. This method was taken up by local makers leading to new brooches like the Dolphin type, clearly based on the earlier Colchester models. Other common brooches of the conquest period included the Langton Down, Hod Hill and Aucissa brooch, (named after its maker).
In the later first century a variety of new brooch types arose called Plate brooches, and peaked during the second and third century. Where Bow brooches had a simple functional purpose, Plate brooches had a far more decorative role, in some ways resembling modern badges. It is therefore believed that they would have been worn by the wealthier parts of society who wore finer and more expensive clothing.
In the fourth and fifth centuries two primary brooch types were predominant: the Crossbow brooch and the Penannular brooch. The Crossbow brooch seems to be associated with status and persons of rank. Penannular brooches continued to be popular into the early medieval period.
Condition: Very good. Bronze in lovely condition with traces of green enamel visible. Could do with a deeper clean to reveal more of the enamel. Pin missing as usual.
Dimensions: Dia. 2.6 cm.
Provenance: Ex. private collection, UK; acquired at auction.