Roman Brooch Research: Investigating the Polden Hill Type

Published: 4 years ago Author:

In the Roman period, apart from coinage, brooches are the most common metallic artefact type recorded from this region by the PAS (www.finds.org.uk/database). Of these, Polden Hill types are the most common brooch type recorded; the 2200 examples out number examples recorded from fieldwork, and are, therefore a major regional brooch type which has not been studied in detail. It has previously been noted that its distribution is focused on the West Midlands but no recent characterisation of its spatial distribution exists. Costume, as an expression of regional variability, is a current academic research priority and the objects recorded by the PAS offer a major new source for brooches of this type.

The CBA West Midlands Annual Grant Award will enable the team, along with Sally Worrell (PAS National Roman Finds Advisor) to carry out this research, starting with data cleaning and gathering additional data where necessary, mapping the distribution of Polden Hill brooches within and outside the region, and try and identify subtypes. This initial work will then provide the springboard for interpreting the distribution patterns in relation to the social, economic and cultural geography in the West Midlands and beyond.

Once the research has been carried out we will produce a report to be published in West Midlands Archaeology and will give a paper based on the report at the CBA West Midlands News From the Past day school. Other outlets for disseminating the report will be the PASt Explorers County Pages, and to the HERs

Another aspect of the dissemination of this research will be to metal detector users. The PAS data mainly comes from metal detector use on rural sites. Finders often express scepticism concerning the value of recording further examples of brooches. When speaking to a PAS Finds Liaison Officer (FLO), a finder has said, 'You don't want to record another fragment of a Polden Hill brooch.' Drawing on this research, the regional FLOs will therefore give 15 presentations to metal detecting clubs in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, West Midlands and Staffordshire. This will demonstrate the importance of recording all artefacts discovered, no matter their condition or frequency.

With all the West Midlands data the PAS has recorded over the past 18 years, it is now an exciting time to be able to carry out research and the CBA West Midlands Annual Grant Award has enabled the PAS team to do just that.

Contact: Angie Bolton

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