Tweezers (2001 guide)

Please note that this guide has not been fundamentally changed from the original print version of the Finds Recording Guide (Geake 2001), written when the database contained just 8,800 non-numismatic records.


There are essentially three types of tweezers, all easy to recognise but hard to date.  First there are those made from sheet, with straight or flaring arms, sometimes with punched or engraved decoration; these can date from the Roman (e.g. Crummy 1983, 58-59; fig. 63) to the medieval period.  Those with slides appear to be medieval (e.g. Egan and Pritchard 2002, 382; fig. 253, no. 1775) although of course the slide will often be missing on a detected find) and there is a suspicion that the widest flaring arms probably date to the middle Anglo-Saxon period (e.g. Tester et al. 2014, 245; fig. 8.10).  Note the angle that the ends turn in at; sometimes this is 90º, sometimes much more gentle.  It may be that eventually this angle can be shown to be of chronological significance.

The second type of tweezers is cast and has decoration based on panels with bevelled edges and areas of engraved geometric ornament.  These never have slides; they look very Roman, but can also be early Anglo-Saxon.  The decoration should be described in as much detail as possible. Examples of this type of tweezers include DUR-82D1AC and SF-1D26E1.

The third type has ends expanded into rectangular terminals and is medieval: they are at present thought to have been to hold the pages of manuscripts, and are discussed in a separate guide called Page Holders.

PAS object type to be used


Terms to use in the description

Tweezers have a loop and two arms, and the ends of the arms may be bent inwards. The loop often has a broad longitudinal groove. Sometimes they have a slide around the arms which presumably locked the grip.


Tweezers date from the Roman period onwards.


Search for all examples of tweezers (excluding ‘page holders’)

Key references

Crummy 1983

Egan and Pritchard 2002