HESH-850C02: Roman: Colchester derivative (Polden Hill Style) brooch

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Unique ID: HESH-850C02

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

An incomplete cast copper alloy brooch of Colchester derivative Polden Hill (Mackreth Group 4, flat wing ends type), Mackreth 2011, 4.b. Plate 46 of Roman date (80-120 AD). This example is especially large and well preserved, unlike many of the examples recorded thus far. The wings are complete being semi-cylindrical in plan with pierced end caps. The axis bar, most of the spring and pin are lost. The axis bar was formed from an iron length of square shaped wire; remnants of this can be seen extant on the brooch, along with an orange coloured corrosion product. The spring is partially preserved and consists of three turns with an external chord. A sub-rectangular hollow is present on the reverse of the head of the brooch and does not extend into the wings; this is filled with a grey brown coloured substance, possibly an adhesive paste to hold the pin / spring. The external chord of the spring would have fitted to a rearward facing hook located at the centre of the wings on the upper edge. This hook is well preserved and decorated, possibly in the style of a snakes head: two incised ovals are present on either edge, possibly representing eyes. The hook is a flared triangular shape. The bow head is hump-like, and angular (comma shaped) in profile. The bow is D shaped in cross section. It extends to a turned and decorated foot knop. The catch-plate is cast and formed from a sub-triangular cast ridge or rib which extends from a point below the head / hump of the bow. The catchplate is broadly sub-triangular and the outer edge is turned / cast to form a U shaped pin rest. The outer edge of the rest is lost through abrasion. Below the catchplate a collared and turned foot knop extends. It terminates in a small stud at the base of the foot. The collar around the foot knop is heavily decorated. The brooch measures 66.6mm length, is 30.6mm width across wings, 12.4mm width across bow, is 10.4mm thick across the bow (at the same point). It weighs 44.7 grams. The brooch is decorated with a series of intricate cast designs. The body and bow of the brooch are most decorated. The wings of the brooch are relatively plain but it is possible that the edges of the end caps are decorated with cast annulets. However, these areas have suffered from abrasion and corrosion so the detailing is unclear. At the junction between the wings and body sub-circular ridges are present, the upper edge of this ridge, on both faces, is decorated with an incised pattern of cast annulets linked together to form a chain. The head and bow of the brooch are also decorated. The rearward facing hook has already been describe (above); from this a slight raised ridge extends from the hook to the foot, however it is lost on the lower part of the bow due to abrasion. Either side of this central ridge two bands of evenly spaced annulets extend. These annulets have raised central pellets and are bordered by a ring of applied surface decoration. What remains of this is a white paste like substance and possible red enamelling in places. These annulet rings extend to the foot but are distorted near the base by abrasion. The underside of the bow, around the central ridge formed by the catchplate, the metal is a black colour and this may be the remains of an applied surface. The foot of the brooch is also heavily decorated with the foot knop being cylindrical. Around the outside of the foot a repeating pattern of interlocking triangles is present. These are a little irregular in nature and it is possible that this area may have been enamelled as the surface of the decoration is rough - almost keyed. If it were enamelled then the design would be zig-zag shaped. The lower side of the knop is concave with a central projecting knop or stud. The brooch is a mid green colour with an even polished patina which is abraded in places. Where abrasion has occurred patches of light green corrosion product are present. Movement in the plough soil has also removed some decoration on the brooch. Similar brooches can be seen in Richard Hattatt's Visual Guide to Ancient brooches pp 300 fig; 159 and Bayley and Butcher: Roman Brooches in Britain pp 89-92. A direct parallel for the decoration has not been found. This style of brooch is usually dated to the early Roman period, 1st -early 2nd century, and are thought to be a local brooch type typical of the West Midlands and Mid Wales.

Find of note status

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

Class: Colchester derivative Polden Hill (Mackreth Group 4, flat wing ends type)
Sub class: Mackreth 2011, 4.b. Plate 46


Broad period: ROMAN
Subperiod from: Early
Period from: ROMAN
Period to: ROMAN
Date from: AD 80
Date to: AD 120

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 66.6 mm
Width: 12.4 mm
Thickness: 10.4 mm
Weight: 44.7 g

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Peter Reavill
Identified by: Mr Peter Reavill

Materials and construction

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

Spatial metadata

Region: West Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Telford and Wrekin (Unitary Authority)
District: Telford and Wrekin (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: Wellington

Spatial coordinates

Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: HESH
Created: Monday 11th May 2009
Updated: Monday 9th January 2017

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