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 maker).
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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