SOM-583BC0: Roman key handle

Rights Holder: Somerset County Council
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Unique ID: SOM-583BC0

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Roman cast copper alloy key, dating to c. AD 150 - 410. The key is incomplete with only the openwork trilobate or 'fleur de lys' handle surviving and part of the shank. The trilobate section of the handle is rectangular in cross section with flat bases. The two outer lobes have thin open stems ending in outward curving circular openwork terminals. The central lobe is unusual, it again has a thin open stem, rising between the other two and widening as the curve outwards. At the top of the outer lobes however two pointed ended branches curve inwards and are joined together by a thin bar, separating the stem of this central lobe from the top part. This top part has a semi-circular top and sides leaving a pelta shaped openwork centre. A small oval knop projects from the centre of the outer edge of the top lobe.
The openwork lobes are situated on top of a double collar, which is rectangular in section and decorated with raised transverse lines on each face and a line of indented pellets on each of the wider faces. Below the collar the handle narrows then widens again slightly to the end of the copper alloy handle. By the lower section beyond the constriction, it is square rather than rectangular in cross section. This lower section is again decorated with raised collars, in this case a pair on each face with a row of raised pellets between the raised lines.
There is a worn break at the base of the handle where the shank would have been located. This area is partly covered with iron staining, suggesting that, as with more complete parallels the shank and bit would have been formed of iron. The piece mostly has a green patina however where modern damage has occured, there are gold-coloured areas which may indicate the handle be made of brass. The object has an overall length of 58.0mm, is 31.8mm wide, 6.1mm thick and weighs 35.0 grams.
Many similar key handles are recorded on the PAS database and from Roman sites (for example Bishop 1996:77, number 469 and Crummy 1983: 126, fig. 142, ref: 4161) and usually dated from the later 2nd to 4th centuries. This examples differs only in the exact design of the central lobe which down not appear to be paralleld on the PAS database.

Class: Openwork trilobate

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: ROMAN
Period from: ROMAN
Period to: ROMAN
Date from: Circa AD 150
Date to: Circa AD 410

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 58 mm
Width: 31.8 mm
Thickness: 6.1 mm
Weight: 35 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Wednesday 28th May 2014 - Wednesday 27th August 2014

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mrs Vicky Lemmens
Identified by: Mrs Vicky Lemmens
Secondary identifier: Ms Laura Burnett

Other reference numbers

Other reference: SCC receipt 16738

Materials and construction

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

Spatial metadata

Region: South West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Somerset (County)
District: South Somerset (District)
To be known as: Misterton CP

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 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: SOM
Created: 4 years ago
Updated: 3 years ago

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