ESS-9A2812: Copper alloy Late Roman nail cleaner strap end

Rights Holder: Colchester Museums
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Unique ID: ESS-9A2812

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

Complete cast copper alloy Roman nail cleaner strap end with crescent-shaped lugs. The body of the strap end is formed from a blade which is flat in section. It has distinct sharply sloping shoulders that then taper inwards into the elongated narrow blade, making it lozenge shaped in plan. The blade terminates in a squared off. Blunt point, but is set with a short V shaped groove, which gives the terminal of the strap end a slight fork or bifid end. Though the prongs of the fork may be too short to be effectual, it is clearly reminiscent of a nail cleaner. Extending from the top of the blade is an integral decorative neck, also flat in section. The neck is sub rectangular in plan, flaring outwards at the top. Towards the middle, the neck is slightly wasted. At this wasted point are the two opposing crescent-shaped lugs. To the top of the neck is the transverse suspension loop that has a slight ridge that extends on to the front face of the neck, but not the reverse. The loop is circular with a circular perforation. The underside of the top of the loop is worn. The body of the strap end is decorated with a border of punched dots. Within this border, is an inner border of punched (or possibly incised) semi circles, with their domes facing inwards. The punched dots extend up towards the neck, just below the lower knops, but otherwise the neck is plain. There are diagonal striation marks on the neck which appear to be tooling marks. The reverse of the strap end is plain. This decoration is typical of these objects (Crummy and Eckardt, 2006, ‘Roman’ or ‘native’ bodies in Britain: The evidence of late Roman nail-cleaners strap-ends, Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 25 (1), page 88). The original surface of the cleaner survives with a dark green patina. It is slightly abraded and some pitting has revealed a lighter green surface. The strap end is 45.96mm long, 10.66mm wide, 2.06mm thick and weighs 4.81g. Nail cleaner strap ends are known from late Roman contexts and may be unique to Roman Britain (Crummy and Eckardt 2006, page 99). For example two were found in Colchester’s late Roman cemetery at Butt Road (Crummy, 1981, Aspects of Anglo-Saxon and Norman Colchester, Figure 15, numbers 3 and 4). For examples of nail cleaner strap-ends with crescent-shaped lugs see Crummy and Eckardt 2006, figure 3.

Class: Nail cleaner

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: ROMAN
Subperiod from: Late
Period from: ROMAN
Date from: Circa AD 350
Date to: Circa AD 400

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 45.96 mm
Width: 10.66 mm
Thickness: 2.06 mm
Weight: 4.81 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 11th June 2006

Personal details

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Other reference numbers

Other reference: ID4542

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: Eastern (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Essex (County)
District: Chelmsford (District)
To be known as: Mashbury

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: GPS (from the finder)
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

Author Publication Year Title Publication Place Publisher Pages Reference
Crummy, P. 1981 Colchester Archaeological Reports 1: Aspects of Anglo-Saxon and Norman Colchester London CBA Figure 15 3 & 4
Eckardt, H. and Crummy, N. 2006 Roman or native bodies in Britain: The evidence of late Roman nail-cleaner strap-ends Oxford Blackwell Publishing

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: ESS
Created: 15 years ago
Updated: 11 years ago

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