WMID-DDA2BD: Roman Crossbow Brooch (profile, front, profile, reverses)

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Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

An incomplete cast copper-alloy developed crossbow brooch, dating to the Roman period circa AD 320-400.

The brooch is incomplete due to the missing pin and hinge mechanism and slightly damaged pin rest at the rear. The brooch is broadly 'P'-shaped in profile and 'T' shaped in plan, with a large 'onion' shaped knob on the head of the bow and on either ends of the crossbar. The knop at the head of the bow is onion shaped with a protruding rounded projection at the top. It is possibly that the onion shaped knops at either end of the crossbow also had these projections which were subsequently damaged and are now missing. The upper knop is a separate piece form the main body of the brooch. The upper bow of the brooch is 'C' shaped in profile and is 'D' shaped in cross section. The lower half of the bow splays towards the foot and is triangular in plan. At the rear of the lower bow there is a slot which would have once held the pin in place. This slot has a right hand side opening. The upper part of the slot is damaged and missing. The crossbow is decorated with vertical ribs in relief. There are two placed either side of the bow with a larger moulding flanking the outer knops. At the base of the upper part of the bow at the point where the lower bow splays is a moulded collar. This is decorated with a number of small incised notches. The centre of the lower bow is decorated with two incised lines that form a triangular shape. There are four triangular shaped notches in light relief at the outer edge of the fantail bow on the right hand side. The decoration on the left hand side has been damaged. The object has a mid- brown coloured patina across all surfaces. The original surface of the brooch has been abraded most notably on the upper bow.

Bayley and Butcher (2004:p.117) illustrate a similar developed crossbow brooch with chevron chip carving on the lower sides of the bow (No.321). This particular example was discovered in Richborough in the inner stone fort ditch with a 'hoard of bracelets'. Bayley and Butcher discuss how the developed crossbow brooch always has knobs on the end of the crossbar and the upper bow and are often 'onion' shaped. Sometimes the knobs are separate pieces. The finder noted that he found the upper knop a small distance away from the brooch, however it is believed the knop does form part of the same brooch.

There are other examples recorded on the database, however there have only been a small number recorded from the West Midlands region. Subsequently this brooch has been noted as a find of note for the region. There is an example discovered in Kent (KENT-82C1C9) which had been silvered and (WMID-FC5D73) which was discovered in Staffordshire and this record notes that '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'.

The brooch measures: Length: 73.28 mm, width: 42.47 mm, thickness: 7.02 mm on bow, 8.24mm thickness at fantail foot, 12.54mmm thickness on wings. The brooch weighs: 41.3 g.

Bayley, J. and Butcher, S., (2004) Roman Brooches in Britain: A Technological and Typological Study Based on the Richborough Collection London, The Society of Antiquaries.

Find of note status

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

Class: Developed Crossbow

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: ROMAN
Subperiod from: Late
Period from: ROMAN
Subperiod to: Late
Period to: ROMAN
Date from: Circa AD 320
Date to: Circa AD 410

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 73.28 mm
Width: 42.47 mm
Thickness: 7.02 mm
Weight: 41.3 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 14th February 2016 - Sunday 14th February 2016

Personal details

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Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: West Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
District: Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
Parish or ward: Loppington (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SJ4730
Four figure Latitude: 52.86485876
Four figure longitude: -2.78871481
1:25K map: SJ4730
1:10K map: SJ43SE
Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

References cited

Author Publication Year Title Publication Place Publisher Pages Reference
Bayley, J. and Butcher, S. 2004 Roman Brooches in Britain: A Technological and Typological Study Based on the Richborough Collection London The Society of Antiquaries 117 321

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: WMID
Created: 6 years ago
Updated: 6 years ago

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