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The British Museum

SWYOR-2DBFA4: Roman nail cleaner strap end

Rights Holder: West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service
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Object type certainty: Probably
Workflow status: Published Find published

An incomplete copper alloy nail cleaner strap end (it could have been either or both), dating from the late Roman period.

Only part of the middle of the nail cleaner survives. It tapers at both ends, but the apex is nearer one end than the other, giving a narrow end and a wider end. It is not clear at which end was the suspension loop or the forked working end. The upper surface of the probably 'leaf-shaped' body is decorated with an incised pattern which comprises a punched dot border, an incised bird, probably a peacock, and other rows of punched crescents. The bird is facing towards the narrower end. Its tail and back are missing due to the break at the wider end. It has a triangular body with herringbone pattern lines representing feathers. two legs extend from the body and terminate in three toed feet. A prominent ring and dot punch marks the eye which fills most of the head which is carried low. There is a tapering thin beak and a crown of incised crescents. In front of the bird is a vertical row of six punched crescents, and beyond that, a horizontal row of six similar crescents. Further crescents line the inside of the dotted borders. The reverse is plain and the breaks are patinated.

BH-C2CAE4 is a nail cleaner decorated with a fish, but the discussion is relevant: "The form and decoration of this piece can be compared to the series of late Roman 'nail-cleaner strap-ends', as discussed by Eckardt and Crummy (2006). [...] The fish-decorated examples form part of a group bearing Christian iconography, other represented designs being a Chi-Rho symbol, a griffin, and a peacock next to the 'tree of life'. The religious symbolism employed on these pieces strongly suggests that they date from the mid 4th century onwards; this dating is reinforced by contextual evidence provided by a number of Eckardt and Crummy's examples from excavated sites (ibid. 90)." Compare also GLO-952CA5 which is decorated with a peacock, as is DENO-3A0D52, NARC-DF98F1, BUC-DB7A84 and HAMP-F2D772.

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: County / local importance

Class: Nail-cleaner strap-end
Sub class: Eckardt, H. and Crummy, N. 2008, 126, fig. 66 OR 138, fig. 81

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: ROMAN
Period from: ROMAN
Date from: Circa AD 300
Date to: Circa AD 450

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 19.46 mm
Width: 9.3 mm
Thickness: 0.99 mm
Weight: 0.79 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Tuesday 19th July 2011 - Wednesday 18th July 2012

Personal details

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Other reference numbers

Other reference: PAS form number 1917

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Manufacture method: Cast
Decoration style: Zoomorphic
Completeness: Fragment

Spatial metadata

Region: East Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Nottinghamshire (County)
District: Newark and Sherwood (District)
Parish or ward: Collingham (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SK8458
Four figure Latitude: 53.11258
Four figure longitude: -0.746526
1:25K map: SK8458
1:10K map: SK85NW
Grid reference source: From finder
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: SWYOR
Created: 9 years ago
Updated: About one year ago

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