PAS-A7DC11: Roman silver bracelet with intaglio

Rights Holder: The British Museum
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Rights Holder: The British Museum
CC License:

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Unique ID: PAS-A7DC11

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

A Roman silver bracelet, now broken in two, with a twisted hoop and hinged bezel.

The distorted elliptical hoop comprises a fine and evenly-twisted, tightly-spiralled tube made from circular-sectioned silver wire. Quite heavy wear is visible on both sides of the hoop. What appears to be the central core, around which the wire was spiralled, is visible under magnification in those places where distortion has slightly 'opened' the twisted strands, but its composition is uncertain. Each terminal is enclosed in a tubular collar which is decorated with an applied central meander filigree wire flanked by a double-ring edge-moulding. The rectangular opening in their broken end once secured the hinged ends of the now separate bezel. There is recent damage to the side of the hoop and to the side of one terminal. Further damage to the terminals and the distortion of the hoop may be ancient.

The large circular bezel, a hollow box construction of silver sheet, has a plain back and sides. Its ornate upper face comprises an outer basal zone of herringbone pattern, formed from three concentric circles of twisted wire, and a central raised open dome with ribbed side and stepped, apparently rubbed-over, setting. The oval gem, seemingly of translucent orange-red colour, has dropped out of position to the base of the box-setting, presumably as a result of the deterioration and loss of an original organic packing. Engraved into its lightly convex surface is the image of a seated Jupiter, with wreath and full-length drapery, holding a sceptre in his left hand. In his extended right hand he holds a patera above a stylised flaming altar.

The bezel was fastened to the hoop by means of a pair of silver strips soldered to the back of the bezel. Their rolled terminals form a pair of lugs at either side of the bezel. One pair, which acted as a hinge, retains a fixed axis bar at the centre of which is the remains of a simple looped hinge-tag, the other end of which was originally fixed (probably soldered) into one of the hoop terminals. The other pair of lugs, now empty, would have held some form of removable locking pin which passed through the lugs and a central loop projecting from the other hoop terminal. The back plate of the bezel and the rim of the setting have both suffered recent damage.

For gold examples of this type of hinged-bezel bracelet see, e.g., F.H. Marshall, Catalogue of the Jewellery, Greek, Etruscan and Roman, in the Departments of Antiquities, British Museum (Trustees of the British Museum, London, 1911; reprinted 1969), nos. 2813 - 2815; and for a silvered bronze variant form see K. Sas and H. Thoen (eds), Schone Schijn/ Brillance et Prestige: Romeinse juweelkunst in West-Europa/ La joaillerieromaine en Europe occidentale, (Peeters, Leuven, 2002), no. 136.

The gemstone's engraved image is similar to that on a carnelian intaglio from Chesterholm/ Vindolanda (Henig 1978, no. 355).

Date: 2nd - 3rd cent AD.

Dimensions: hoop (distorted) 80 x 61 mm; hinged bezel L. 36.4 mm, Diam. 26.8 mm.

Weight: hoop 41.7 g; bezel and gem 16.5 g.

Ralph Jackson
Dept. of Prehistory & Europe
British Museum
28th February 2013

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: National importance

Class: hinged bezel

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: Dock Museum
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2012T627


Broad period: ROMAN
Period from: ROMAN
Period to: ROMAN
Date from: Circa AD 100
Date to: Circa AD 300

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 80 mm
Width: 61 mm
Weight: 58.2 g
Diameter: 26.8 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Thursday 26th July 2012

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Miss Lucy Ellis
Identified by: Ralph Jackson

Other reference numbers

Other reference: 50 Finds from Cumbria
Treasure case number: 2012T627

Materials and construction

Primary material: Silver
Secondary material: Gem
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: North West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Cumbria (County)
District: South Lakeland (District)
To be known as: Dalton Area

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: GPS (from the finder)
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: Dock Museum

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: PAS
Created: 4 years ago
Updated: 2 years ago

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