Roman Brooches

Click to enlarge image of Roman Brooches
Brooches are a very common find in Britain from both before and after the Roman invasion of Britain They were used to fasten various items of clothing for both men and women and the majority were made of copper alloy.

Parts of four Roman Brooches were found in Trench 18 in the 2003 Season, some more complete than others. One is of a trumpet type with milled decoration, the others are described as Bow Brooches and specifically Polden Hill type variants from the late 1st to the 2nd century AD. The Portable Antiquities database shows that this is the most common type of Roman bow brooch found in Cheshire and Greater Manchester.

Along with the brooches were other metal objects, most of which were too corroded to be accurately identified. However a pin was found which has been described as a Cool Group 1 Roman hairpin and a handle or hangerwith a spirally twisted stem, possibly from a lamp or cauldron and which appears similar to examples of Iron Age/Romano-British objects found at Colchester and Southern Scotland.

The 3D Animation to the right has been kindly produced for us
by David Wilcox of Virneth Studios
Click on the arrow buttons to play the animation and rotate the Brooch
( Please enable "Allow Blocked Content" )

Report on the Brooches

Click to enlarge image of Roman BroochBOW BROOCH Trumpet type variant
OVM03 T18 42/304X-ray 2+3 L 62mm, W 14mm, Wt. 17.37g
Oval head denuded through corrosion. A pierced lug at the back of the head supports the axis bar around which is coiled the spring. The chord of the spring is internal, looping beneath the spring. The pin is missing. The head of the bow is turned sharply backwards. No decoration visible on the head. The bow is oval in section.
Click to enlarge image of Roman BroochThe waist moulding between the bow and the leg comprises a large flattened central bead sandwiched between two smaller flattened beads. Milled decoration immediately above and below the central bead. The bottom bead has milling around its centre, top bead is badly corroded. The waist moulding does not continue around the back of the bow . The leg of the bow is badly corroded and terminates in a badly corroded foot knob.Front face forms a sharply defined ridge.

Click to enlarge image of Roman Brooch BOW BROOCH Polden Hill type variant
OVM 03 T18 46/304 X-ray 2a+b, 3a+b L 25mm, W 23mm, Wt. 7.67g
Head and part of bow only. Semi-cylindrical wings with rounded lugs at each end. Spring gear and pin missing. Lacks the characteristic oval mouldings to ether side of the head but retains the bulge beneath the head. The head of the bow is squared-off at the top and what remains has a convex front and slightly hollowed at the back. The bow is curving. Trace of median rib and groove on the bow. Late 1st century AD.

Click to enlarge image of Roman BroochBOW BROOCH Polden Hill type variant
OVM 03 T18 51/305X-ray 2a+b, 3a+b L 42.4mm, W 17.6mm, W 7.30g
Complete bow brooch. Semi-tubular wings with rounded lugs at either end which are defined by a groove. The lugs are pierced to the rear by the axis of the spring. The copper alloy spring is six and a half turns. The chord is missing but would have been held by the rearward-facing lug at the top of the head. Approximately a third of the pin is missing. The bow is humped and has the characteristic oval mouldings to either side. The bulge beneath the head is restrained. The head of the bow is decorated with a pair of grooved ridges that converge to a pair of petal shaped mouldings. The space between the ridges is decorated with a pattern of punched circles. Immediately beneath the petal moulding is a circular socket which has a lipped bottom edge. At the centre of the socket are the remains of a pin (iron?) which would have held a stud � probably of coloured glass or enamel. The tapering bow is plano-convex in section and terminates with a flat round foot defined by a circumscribing ridge and groove. The catchplate has two triangular piercings. Traces of white metal coating are visible on the surface of the brooch. Displays characteristics of both Polden Hill type and Headstud type of late 1st to 2nd centuries..

BOW BROOCH Polden Hill type variant
OVM03 T18 106/303 (unstrat.) X-ray 2a+b, 3a+b L 20mm, W 13.5mm, Wt 1.98g
Head and part of bow only. Incomplete semi-tubular wings hold remains of copper alloy spring gear. The pin is missing. Five turns of the spring remain as does a fragment of the chord, which passes over the spring and is held in position with a rearward-facing hook that projects from the top of the head. The head is squared off at the top. A pair of incised lines at either edge defines the moulded bulge beneath the head. Only a short section of the bow remains. It is plain, circular in section and gently curving. Late 1st century AD.

Read the full 2003 Small Finds Metalwork Report
Read about the Romano British Period at Mellor

With Thanks to Nick Herepath
3D Image created by David Wilcox of Roman Bow Brooch