WMID-FC5D73: Front view of a late 4th century copper alloy crossbow brooch.

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
CC License:

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
CC License:

Rights Holder: Birmingham Museums Trust
CC License:

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Unique ID: WMID-FC5D73

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

A cast copper alloy crossbow brooch (length: 62.5mm; width at wings: 46mm; thickness at arched bow: 9mm; weight:32.15g). A large and heavy brooch with wings decorated with incised ridge designs running four times down the wings' length in between the end knobs and where the central knob would have been. At each end of the wings, there are very characteristic onion-shaped knobs with deep hollowed holes facing out from the front of the bow where there may have been enamel originally (of which there is no trace). It does appear that these cavities where designed for decoration. In the centre between the wings and at the top of the bow, there is a small hole of approximately 3.5mm diameter which presumably held the top knob, therefore providing the brooch with a cross or cruciform-type appearance. There are two additional holes to either side of this which are drilled straight through to the other side (diameter: 2mm). It is uncertain what these holes were for - they may have been for decorative purposes to possibly hold enamel? The bow (length: 34mm) is semi-circular in profile and has a very pronounced arched back. The bow leg is slightly shorter than the bow (length: 33mm). Thre may be some evidence of decoration on the leg as geometric patterns are faintly visible under the corrosion. The hinge mechanism and pin are both missing at the back of the brooch. The back of the bow and leg are flat with only slight remains of a catch plate protruding from the leg. Overall, the brooch is in a poor and corroded condition, particularly on the two surviving knob terminals, the bow and leg at the front of the brooch. There are some areas of bronze disease, most notably on one of the knobs and along the side edges of the leg. The brooch has a pitted dark brown patina.

There are a number of similar crossbow brooch examples illustrated in Hattatt's work. Firstly, three examples are shown of the 'heavy' brooches in Hattatt's 'Brooches of Antiquity', 1987, pages 282-288. Unfortunately, two do not have more specific find spot areas and are similar classed as 'eastern Mediterranean' (Ref no 1265, Fig 91)and 'provenance unknown - London saleroom' (Ref no 1267, Fig 92). However, these both have multiple holes along the wings either side of the central knob as well as the onion-shape terminals. Another example from the late 4th century was found near Bury St. Edmunds which also has similar features (Ref no 1269, Fig 93). A brooch illustrated in Hattatt's 'Iron Age & Roman Brooches', 1985, Fig 56, Ref no 505) is also similar apart from the knobs have developed into a more angular design. The provenance for this brooch is unknown.

From the late third to fifth centuries AD, the Crossbow brooch was the only surviving bow brooch to continue in use until the end of the Roman period throughout the whole of the Roman Empire. This form of brooch can be traced back to the La Tene and Nauheim derivatives in the first century.

In 'Brooches of Antiquity', page 283, Hattatt has categorised Crossbow brooches into many types. This badly corroded example can be classified as either K4 or K5, dating between 350-400 AD.

Class: crossbow

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: ROMAN
Period from: ROMAN
Date from: Post AD 350
Date to: Ante AD 400

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 62.5 mm
Width: 46 mm
Thickness: 9 mm
Weight: 32.15 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Monday 1st March 2004 - Thursday 1st April 2004

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Ms Caroline Johnson
Identified by: Ms Caroline Johnson

Materials and construction

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

Spatial metadata

Region: West Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Staffordshire (County)
District: Lichfield (District)
Parish or ward: Hamstall Ridware (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SK1118
Four figure Latitude: 52.759497
Four figure longitude: -1.838439
1:25K map: SK1118
1:10K map: SK11NW
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

Author Publication Year Title Publication Place Publisher Pages Reference
Hattatt, R. 1982 Ancient and Romano-British brooches Sherborne Dorset Publishing pages 118-125 Ref no 104
Hattatt, R. 1985 Iron Age and Roman Brooches Oxford Oxbow Books pages 128-135 Ref nos505 & 507
Hattatt, R. 1987 Brooches of Antiquity: a third selection of brooches from the author's collection Oxford Oxbow Books pages 282-8 Ref nos 1265, 1267 & 1269

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: WMID
Created: 15 years ago
Updated: 8 years ago

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