Roman Brooches

My second blog post for the festival of archaeology is focusing on the Roman period which spans AD 43 – 410. In Rutland, 648 Roman objects have been recorded, the largest category for finds. Roman finds from Rutland are dominated by coins, which is not unusual, coins are the most recorded object on the entire database. Today though, I thought I would focus on a few lovely brooches which have been found in Rutland.

Roman brooches came in a range of shapes and sizes and styles. Within Rutland there has been a diverse range of brooches found.

The first brooch LEIC-B8C83F isa plate/shield type brooch, rhomboid in shape, small but beautifully decorated with a very well preserved red/orange coloured enamel, present on most of the front face. In the centre there is a projecting boss, which it is uncertain whether it would have been decorated or not.  The pin is missing on this brooch but we can still determine that a hinged pin would have been present by the remaining lug on the rear of the brooch.

Figure 1 LEIC-B8C83F
Figure 1 LEIC-B8C83F (Leicestershire County Council licence CCBy2.0)

Another more elaborately designed Roman plate brooch is LEIC- 7A61E8, as seen below in figure 2. This brooch takes a different form from the previous type and take a sub triangular form. The enamelled decoration takes a different form and although present on the main body, it has preserved fragments of alternating colours remaining in small triangular recessed cells. The bow of the brooch has a zoomorphic terminal and depicts an unknown animal’s head. The pin for this brooch would have been made of iron and of a hinged type, the iron corrosion can be seen on the wings on the brooch.

Figure 2 LEIC-7A61E8
Figure 2 LEIC-7A61E8 (Derby Museums Trust licence CCBy2.0)

The final brooch I have picked out slightly less elaborate than the previously looked at examples, but is a far more common type. LEIC-E80273 is a dolphin type brooch, named so after the high curvature of the bow at the top of the brooch and resemblance to a dolphin. Dolphin, Colchester and their derivative types are more common finds than those depicted above.

Although this example is rather plain, they can be found with incised or moulded decoration, sometimes even geometric patterns can be depicted along the bow. The catchplate has decayed slightly on the back of the bow and much of the pin is missing but the spring mechanism is still preserved within the wings of the brooch.

Figure 3 LEIC-E80273
Figure 3 LEIC-E80273 (Leicestershire County Council licence CCBy2.0)

Many other Roman brooch types have been recorded on the PAS database from Rutland, including a headstud type; LEIC-835757, trumpet variants LEIC-E19145 and bow/fantail types LEIC-6D900F.

The following link directs you to all Roman objects found in Rutland.

Roman objects on PAS database

Megan Gard

Finds Liaison Officer for Rutland and Leicestershire