Posts in Category: Brooch

June - Panned Out Well 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 11:48:00 AM Categories: Accessories Brooch Copper Food Religion Roman

June's find of the month is a rather nice and very unusual copper alloy Roman brooch.  It is of a type that is representational of an object, which are collectively known as skeuomorphic brooches. 

Figure 1. Roman Patera brooch

Figure 1. Roman Patera brooch

This particular example (Figure 1) was found near Marham in Norfolk and is very unusual in that it represents a small Roman vessel called a Patera (see Figure 2). The exact purpose of the Patera in Roman life is not entirely clear but it is believed that they were used as simple cooking utensils and/or ceremonially to pour libations or make offerings of food to a chosen deity. There are many other types of representational brooches produced by inventive Roman craftsmen; these include for example amphora, horse and riders, axes, and sandal soles.


Figure 2. Examples of Roman Paterae

Figure 2. Examples of Roman Paterae

To date, there is only one other Patera brooch recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database which was found on the Isle of Wight. Both records can be viewed in full at www.finds.org.uk using the search reference NMS-2104DA for the Norfolk example, and IOW-1EE0B7 for the Isle of Wight example.

November - Broaching the subject 

Monday, October 10, 2016 11:26:00 AM Categories: Accessories Bronze Brooch Grooming Metal Roman

Photo of fragment of enamelled Roman chatelelaine plate brooch

Our object this month is a rather nice red, yellow and blue, enamelled fragment of a Roman chatelaine plate brooch found in Great Melton. 

These types of brooches were probably worn exclusively by women and as well as being an adornment the brooch was multifunctional, in that they were also used to suspend a variety of useful toilet or cosmetic implements, made up of such things as tweezers, ear scoops and nail cleaners.  A more complete example is shown below (image courtesy of the British Museum) and illustrates how the various utensils were suspended from a bar that was fixed by perforated lugs at either end of the bottom edge.

 

Photo of complete Roman chatelaine brooch from the British Museum

This bar is missing on the Norfolk-found example, as of course are the various instruments that would have been suspended from it. The utensils attached to a brooch in this way are highly impractical for use and they are presently believed to have served more as status symbols or statements of personal hygiene.

Chatelaine brooches of this type typically date from the 3rd to the early 4th century AD.  A full description of this Norfolk example can be found on the Portable Antiquities website (www.finds.org.uk) using the reference number NMS-2B9212.

April - The Beast of East Anglia 

Wednesday, April 06, 2016 1:01:00 PM Categories: Accessories Animals Brooch Copper Metal Saxon

Our chosen find this month was found on the Suffolk border and is a type of Saxon brooch that has a growing population on the Portable Antiquities Scheme Database.  

Photograph of Saxon brooch featuring backwards turning beast and ring and dot decoration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The number of these brooches recorded by the scheme and the identification and recording team at Gressenhall is now approaching 90. These brooches are found as far away as the Welsh border, but interestingly the distribution is proving to be very much centred on East Anglia. 

The brooch is a late Saxon disc type dating to circa 850-1000 AD and depicts a backwards facing beast. It often, but not always, features ring and dot decoration as part of the design.

The map below is a form of geographic map plot called a ‘heat map’ and gives a colour-contoured representation of the distribution, where red depicts the highest density.  As you can see East Anglia seems to be home to the beastie

Heat map of the distribution of backwards facing beast brooches in England.

 

July - Can you pin it down? 

Monday, June 30, 2014 2:00:00 AM Categories: Accessories Brooch Lead Medieval

A composite lead alloy disc brooch with integral pin, probably made and worn in the late 15th – early 16th century.

Photograph of lead alloy disc brooch

This brooch was a relatively cheap, mass produced piece of jewellery made of lead because it could be worked quickly and easily. It may originally have been painted to make it look more decorative. It is likely that similar brooches were very common in the late medieval period, but they are rarely recorded in Norfolk now because they break so easily into tiny fragments which are impossible to recognise if they are found at all. More examples have been recorded in London where fragile objects like this are better preserved under layers of deep urban deposits (See Egan and Pritchard, 2002, 261, fig.169 and 262, fig.170).

High quality jewellery made of copper alloy, silver or even gold might be impressive to look at, but this brooch is probably more representative of the type of dress accessory worn by the majority of people whose portraits were never painted, whose lives are rarely detailed in history books and who we would know very little about if we didn’t record archaeological finds.

Find out more here: NMS-247B85

Bibliography

 

Egan, G and Pritchard, F. (2002) Dress Accessories 1150 – 1450, fourth addition, The Boydell Press, Bury St Edmunds

June - Nothing too quackers 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014 10:18:00 AM Categories: Animals Brooch Copper Metal Roman


Photograph of enamelled duck brooch

Roman brooches must be one of the most commonly recorded metal artefacts, and although there is a wide variety of types known including plate, penannular, disc and bow, within this variety huge numbers of very similar brooches are recorded. Roman brooches were both decorative and functional acting as a dress fastener to hold clothes in position.

This example is a well-known variety of zoomorphic (animal shaped) brooch in the form of a duck with brightly coloured enamelled decoration. The surface is now corroded to a dull green but the enamel would have stood out against a shining yellow-bronze surface when it was new. Other types of zoomorphic brooch depict animals including other birds, fish, horses, hares, lions and even flies. 

NMS-B3698D

March - Holding it together 

Saturday, March 01, 2014 2:09:00 PM Categories: Accessories Brooch Clothing Copper Medieval Metal

In the late 13th and early 14th century it was a popular fashion to convert coins into brooches. Most medieval coins featured a cross as part of the design on the reverse (tails), and it was this face that was displayed as a symbol of Christianity and not the king’s head. Wealthier people used silver coins, sometimes gilded, with silver fittings on the back.

Photograph of copper alloy jetton brooch

This brooch represents a cheaper version, with a copper alloy jetton (a kind of counter which also circulated as small change) with iron fittings riveted to it, and shows how the fashions of the rich were copied by people with more limited resources.

Find out more here

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