HAMP-C45106: Romano-British 'Bavay-type' fetter (shackle)

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Unique ID: HAMP-C45106

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

A corroded iron fetter probably from a set of Romano-British shackles. The object is of penannular form with recurving ‘eyes’ at the terminals (97 by 87.7mm). In profile the shackle is concave; a median band of rectangular section is enclosed within. Retained in each eye is a loop, one circular (ext. dia.: c. 73mm, int. dia.: c. 52mm), the other an elongated oval, bent at an obtuse angle (L.: c. 93mm, W.: c. 42mm). As such the artefact is similar in form to the Bavay-type as classified in Thompson (1994, 117ff.), and is therefore best classified as such. It is acknowledged that it is a variant on the Bavay-type in that such shackles tend to have a triangular loop rather than a circular one (cf. e.g. ibid., 119; fig. 84). It is worth noting that the form of this object is similar to modern animal hobbles. However, the latter tend to have a flat tongue at one terminal, as opposed to eyes at both ends (ibid., 139; fig. 113). Given the presence of eyes at both ends on this object and its typological similarity to Bavay-type shackles, the ancient identification is preferred. Such finds tend to be found in later Roman contexts; the wide date range offered here allows for retention and longevity of use.


As Thompson (1994, 117ff.) notes, ‘in use, the shackles were placed round the captive’s ankles, the bent loops passed through their [triangular] counterparts, and the protruding ends of the former then slipped over the padlock bar. It was evidently a device intended to give greater security in that it prevented the forcing apart of shackle terminals.’ The Bavay-type was ‘widespread in Gaul and Britain’ with a ‘predominantly rural distribution’ (ibid., 147). Adam Gwilt (pers. comm. 11th December 2008) has informed of numerous British examples, from: Great Chesterford, Essex, Wroxeter, Shropshire, Chester, Cheshire, Ware, Hertfordshire, Hockwold, Norfolk, Silchester, Berkshire, [Hoe, Norfolk] and London. One from Caistor-by-Norwich (Roman ‘Venta Icenorum’) can be found illustrated in de la Bedoyère (1989, 127; ref. 76b). It is considered plausible that some of the rural workforce would have been shackled (Thompson 1994, 149).

Find of note status

This has been noted as an interesting find by the recorder.

Class: fetter
Sub class: Bavay-type


Broad period: ROMAN
Period from: ROMAN
Date from: Circa AD 200
Date to: Circa AD 400

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 176 mm
Width: 95 mm
Thickness: 34 mm
Weight: 356.65 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Wednesday 1st January 1992

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Robert Webley
Identified by: Mr Robert Webley
Secondary identifier:

Other reference numbers

Other reference: E2384

Materials and construction

Primary material: Iron
Manufacture method: Wrought
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Hampshire (County)
District: Winchester (District)
Parish or ward: Headbourne Worthy (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SU4633
Four figure Latitude: 51.094471
Four figure longitude: -1.344504
1:25K map: SU4633
1:10K map: SU43SE
Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: HAMP
Created: 9 years ago
Updated: 6 years ago

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