Archaeology Collection : Romano-British Brooches
Whilst brooches are a common find on Roman sites they are still important as they can be dated. Due to the changing types of brooches
through Roman history, this allows us to trace the spread of the Roman army and culture across Britain, after the invasion in 43 AD.
Pre-Roman Colchester type brooches continued to be used. These were made in one piece with the bow, spring and pin all being fashioned
from a single copper alloy casting.
The Romans also 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, (this type was named after its
In the fourth and fifth centuries there were two primary brooch types that were predominant: the Crossbow brooch and the Penannular
brooch. Penannular brooches even continued to be popular into the early medieval period.
In the 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.
The examples illustrated here are part of the Tarrant Collection in the Blake Museum. Mr Tarrant employed metal detectorists to find these
examples. They were found in the neighbourhood of Bridgwater.
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