FINDS THROUGH THE AGES – The Roman Period

 

Great Britain was governed by the Roman Empire from the period AD 43 to 410 AD. There are currently 381, 275 records of Roman artefacts and coins on the PAS database, 3172 of which are from Berkshire! The most common finds are coins followed by brooches. An amazing 2, 580 coins, and 179 brooches are recorded from Berkshire, a large proportion of which were found in West Berkshire.

 

COINS

As there are so many coins to choose from here are the only 2 gold solidi recorded from Berkshire:

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

This gold Roman solidus of Theodosius I (AD 379-395), dating to the period AD 378-383 (Reece Period 20) was found only last year in West Berkshire.

The reverse legend reads: VICTOR-IA AVGG and depicts two emperors seated facing, together holding a globe. Behind and between them the upper portions of a Victory with outspread wings, between them below a palm branch. Mint of Trier. As RIC IX, no. 50; Hoxne, no. 12.

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

 

The second solidus is of Valentinian I (AD 364-75), dating to the period AD 364 – 367 (Reece period 19), was found in Wokingham. The reverse legend reads: RESTITVTOR REI PVBLICAE and depcits the emperor in military attire standing, head facing right, holding labarum ornamented with Chi-Ro and victory on globe. Mint of Trier. Sear suggests a more precise date of AD 364. Reece period 19.
Reference: RIC volume IX, p.13, no.1(a) 1a (A) 7; Sear 19244.

 

Here are some of the highlights of various artefacts from Berkshire.

 

BROOCHES. As there are so many brooches in this period here are some of the less common types we have in Berkshire:

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This zoomorphic copper alloy Roman plate brooch, dating to the period c. AD 100 – 200 was found in Boxford, West Berkshire. The brooch is in the form of a cockerel and has crescent shaped cells to each side, filled with red and blue enamel suggestive of the wing feathers. Cockerels are associated with the god Mercury.

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

This incomplete copper alloy enameled disc brooch dates to the 2nd century AD. It is decorated with a six pointed star with blue, green and red enamel cells. This style of brooch is often referred to as ‘sunburst’ design. The brooch was found in Chieveley.

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

This copper alloy plate brooch dating to the 2nd century AD is lozenge in form with a raised cell and eight rounded projections. The brooch decoration is well preserved and consists of a design in blue, red and white enamel, with red and white dots on a blue field and centrally concentric red and white circles.  Found in West Isley.

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

An incomplete copper alloy Roman plate brooch dating to c. AD 100 – 200.  The brooch is pelta-shaped in form. The brooch is decoration is of Champlevé style with enamel in-filled cells. It has a central ‘ladder’ effect of cells with alternate yellow and red infill. To each side, there is a curvy linear, or floral design infilled with blue and red enamel. This brooch was recently found in Welford, West Berkshire.

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

A copper alloy spoked disc brooch dating to c. 200-410 AD was found in Lambourn.  This brooch is almost complete with only the iron pin missing! It is beautifully preserved with a gilded obverse and tinned reverse.

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

An almost complete copper alloy light crossbow brooch dating to c. AD 280-410. The iron residue on the reverse along the cross bar indicates where the pin would have been. This is otherwise pretty well preserved and was designated a find of interest by the FLO perhaps due to the rarity and preservation of this type of brooch in Berkshire.  Found in Welford.

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

Moving on to this last and pretty spectacular brooch! This is a rare find as it is complete! It is a Hod Hill type brooch dating to 43-75 AD. The brooch has multiple ribbed moulding down the bow with a wide horizontal panel forming ‘side lugs’ across the middle. It also contains traces of silver. Found in Lambourn.

 

VESSEL

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

This incomplete and plough-damaged sheet copper alloy vessel dates to the 1st AD and was possibly used for a cremation. It was found in West Berkshire. Interestingly some rim fragments were also found with this vessel but it is unclear if they were part of this vessel or of another. The rims depict either ibises or swans.

For more information and photos click on the link to go direct to the record. This great artefact is also featured in the ‘50 Finds from Berkshire’ book by Anni Byard which is now available to purchase on amazon! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sevenoaks-Great-War-Its-Legacy/dp/1445675005/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=50+finds+from+Berkshire&qid=1595341326&sr=8-1

The vessel will soon be on display at the West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

 

FINGER RING

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A complete gold finger ring of Roman date, Guiraud Type 2c (Guiraud 1989: 181-185) dating from the late first to mid-third century AD (c. AD 75-250). The finger ring has an oval Cornelian intaglio depicting a bird (probably an eagle) advancing left over a solid line that acts as the ground. This gold finger ring was found in West Berkshire and has been acquired and will soon be on display at the West Berkshire Museum in Newbury!

EAR-RING

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

Another Treasure item, this gold lunate object was either a pendant or possibly an ear-ring, and dates to 1st to 3rd century AD. It was found in West Berkshire. The object has been paralleled to other Roman ear-rings of similar form none have been found like this one in Berkshire before.

 

HAIR PIN

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

A copper alloy pin with the head in the form of a human head and upper torso, dating to the 1st to 4th century AD, found in East Ilsley, West Berkshire. From the PAS record notes: The British Museum specialist writes “Despite the size and squarish shaft I regard it as a Romano-British hair pin, appropriately depicting a woman with a fancy coiffeur. The distinctive positioning of the hands is reminiscent of an object from the Lydney Romano-British temple site, and may have been an allusion to childbirth/fertility. It is not possible to date it more closely than 1st to 4th century AD.” I am indebted to Ralph Jackson for this comment.

 

NAIL CLEANER

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

This unusual find is a copper alloy anthropomorphic terminal, probably from a toilet article. It dates to 1st – 2nd century AD. The terminal has been cast to form a human head modelled three-dimensionally! Another Lambourn find! The only other similar find was noted to be a nail cleaner from Northamptonshire.

 

SPATULAS

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0
Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

These two Roman copper alloy spatula handles depict the goddess Minerva.  The goddess wears a helmet and the features of the face and body are much more defined on the second figure than the first. There have been quite few figural spatula handles recorded on the PAS database.  Both these examples are classed as Feugère type A5. Found in Chieveley and Boxford.

 

FITTING

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This copper alloy fitting is possibly from a harness and has a general date of 43-410 AD. It has punched decoration and two crescent-shaped cut-outs. The fitting has a hinge with an iron bar. The fitting was found in Cox Green, East Berkshire.

 

STRAP-END

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

A copper alloy nail cleaner strap-end dating to AD 350 – 410. The terminal would have been forked but is now missing. There are many of these recorded on the PAS database but not many which were found in Berkshire so this is a great find. The strap end is decorated with bordering lines of punched dots and crescents. These types of strap ends were largely distributed in the Southern part of Britain.

 

FIGURINES

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

A copper alloy figurine of a naked child – a Cupid. Both hands and the right foot are missing. The figurine is in a running pose with the right arm raised. The sex of the figurine is unclear. The hair is held in a small bun at the neck and the details of the hair are engraved. The figurine dates to 43-410 AD and these types of Cupid figurines were typical of the pieces found in Britain. For more information on the object click on the image. Here again we have a find of note with potential for inclusion in Britannia! It was found in Waltham St. Lawrence, East Berkshire.

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

This copper alloy figurine depicts an upright standing rooster or cockerel has a general Roman date of 43-410 AD. Cockerels are associated with the Celtic god Lugus, who was further associated with Mercury. Found in Lambourn. Other bird mounts can be found on the database but this is the only cockerel type found in Berkshire.

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

This next object is an incredible find and was reported as a find of note with the potential for inclusion of Britannia! It is a complete but slightly damaged copper alloy Romano-British figurine of a boy with goose dating to c. AD 43 – 200. The statue is in the form of a chubby and naked winged boy, a putto, seated with his arms around the neck of a goose. This statue is probably from a small household shrine. To read more about this object click on the image. It was found in Winterbourne, West Berkshire.

 

 

Copyright: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, License: CC-BY 2.0

 

Finally we have this lovely Romano British copper alloy figurine of Mars found in Wokingham! This has a general date of 43-410 AD. Mars is depicted naked and only wearing a Corinthian style helmet. From the record: “According to Dr. Emma Durham’s Corpus published in 2012,, this form of Mars figurine was the most common and more than 47 examples are known. This figure is likely to be of north-west provincial origin.”